222

Just three little numbers, right?  Yeah, I thought so too the first time I noticed them.  That was the number of my room at the Chiara Center in Springfield, IL.  Chiara is, “Grounded in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, Chiara Center offers a peaceful, inspirational setting for individuals, couples and groups who seek Christ’s healing presence.”  I stayed there for a couple of days, about a month after my father passed away, three years ago.

I did indeed find peaceful solitude and had some great moments with God.  Most people there take on a vow of silence while on the grounds.  I like to talk, so that was difficult for me to abide by, but in the long run, helped me.

After leaving Chiara, I slowly started noticing the number “222” popping up in all kinds of places.  It was so odd that I begin searching out, why, and what does it mean?  A friend helped me learn it meant “New Beginnings”.  Four months later I met my Filipino wife April.  That certainly was a new beginning, perhaps that is what God had in mind all along.  Then I wound up moving to the Philippines and living there for seven months.  Living in a foreign country was new to me.  Could that be it?  But I kept seeing the number, even after these big events took place.

I saw the number everywhere, and almost all the time, as addresses, on the clock, house numbers, as part of phone numbers, and even “order” numbers.

Then recently, my wife and I were invited to go to a lakeside resort, about an hour from our house, to pray with the team restarting the lodge, and creating a new ministry.  We arrived and fell in love with the place, and the location.  The lodge is close to where my father and I used to catch a lot of fish.  We listened to their vision over dinner and then went to our room and continued to pray, seek God.  We caught a hold of a vision of one way the place could be utilized.  The idea caught on and sparked further discussion by others.  At the end of the meeting, Saturday morning, we were excited about what all God wanted and could do at this location.

We stayed a second night with our neighbors, the host of the meeting and the cooks.  While sitting around a bon fire and April eating her first S’more, hearts and past experiences were shared.  Something started to grow inside April and me.  That next week we found ourselves back out to the lodge to take pictures for social media.  We were now volunteering.  To make things easier for us, we were given a room where we could leave some things and not have to pack everything, every time we went there.

Yep, you have probably guessed by now, our room key was to room “222”.  Tears swelled up in my eyes, and my heart flooded with joy.  This was what God was bringing April and me to, all along.  We are so excited, to now be a part of the ministry that will be happening here.  Lives will be changed.  Souls will be added to the kingdom of God.  Hearts will be reunited with others and with God.  Callings will take place here, and others will be strengthened.  The tired will find rest, and then the strength to go on.

As April and I begin our lives together and after we were married there were a few times when it almost all ended, and it felt like heaven and hell were warring, one side trying to keep us together, and the other side trying to pull us apart.  It was at those times, after the heat would die down, I would look at April and say, “Ya know, God must have something big for us to be a part of, because the devil is working really hard to tear us apart!”

Turns out, I was right, and we are so thankful God worked so hard to help us get to the day we found out that “222” was for this new beginning.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What Does Your Sign Say?

She’s 19 years old.  Engaged to the man of her dreams, so she thinks, but the longer our conversation went it became obvious to me she’s marrying this guy to escape her mother’s prison.  She’s not happy, not satisfied, and not fulfilled.  I tried to, in a gentle way, point out the flaws in her plans,

but I had forgotten;

19 year olds know everything.

I was asked how my weekend went, and I replied, ”Good.  I enjoyed it.  How was yours?”  “Oh, not so good,” said my friend.  I was surprised.  On the outside his life looks as if it is going well.  Apparently it’s not.  Who knew?  Later I offered to get together and be a sounding post if he wanted to vent, or share.  He said he appreciated that.

It seems, as if most of my life, others have shared with me what is going on in their lives.  Especially when it is not going well.  I was perplexed by this phenomenon for several years until one day I was told that it seems as if I have a shepard’s heart.  I should have known for many people have asked me if I was a pastor.  The truth is, I was supposed to be.  I was on the path to becoming one when I took a wrong turn in that fork in the road of life.

I could have taken the road on the right, and kept going, but I didn’t, and, well, the consequences took me out of ministry, but it didn’t change my heart.  I repented, and tried to get back on track, but it didn’t happen, but I digress.

I ask you today, “What message are you giving others?”  When someone meets you what are you saying to them?  Are you open to listening?  Does your sign tell them that you are only interested in your plans and goals?

There are people all around us that need hope, light in their dark world, they might just need someone to listen, to know someone cares, or more importantly, they might need God.

I try to imitate the life of Christ, and one thing I noticed is this; he took time for people.  I hope you do too.  I hope the message on your sign says, “Welcome.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

A Promise Fulfilled

Carlie 04.2Many years ago, like 33 of them, I left full time ministry.  I had been a youth pastor in two different churches.  I left under circumstances that should have never taken place.  I then entered my own desert and had my own version of Mt. Sinai to march around.

I was so mad for allowing Satan to deceive me into thinking my sin was right, but after all, that’s his specialty.  Thinking I would never again get to minister to people, hurt beyond belief, and one of the things I enjoyed the most was preaching from behind a pulpit.

A friend wrote me a letter as I was entering the desert.  She said she was praying for me and she shared a word she got from God for me.  Jeremiah 31:4   It says, “I will rebuild you and you shall be rebuilt.”

I hid that word from God in my heart for those many years waiting and wondering how God would fulfill his promise.

Tomorrow, at First Baptist Church in Prue, Oklahoma, I will get to stand behind the pulpit once again and minister to God’s people.  I am a little nervous, but excited at the same time.  I trust this is the first of many opportunities to minister around the world.

I am so grateful to my loving God, for caring so much for me that he would not leave me wondering in the desert, but showed me the exit.  After all, the gritty sand had done its work.  I was ready!

I am also thankful to Pastor Garry McDevitt for listening to God, trusting me and giving me this opportunity.  He is doing a great work for God in the community, as people are accepting Jesus and getting baptized almost every week.

Be encouraged, you have not done so much that God can’t use you.  He loves humble, willing, remorseful, ordinary people to do his work.  Oh, and he will help you get the sand out of, well, everywhere!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Church Cookies

Charlie 237Why are we the only ones providing a snack each week for the children?  Can’t someone else do it this week?”  Asked the man.

She was young, and living in a country where the simplest things you want, cost too much.  So when she visited the church down the street, and after they shared the hope of Jesus, they passed out cookies and a fruit drink.  She couldn’t believe it.  She thought the pastor must have been the richest man in the world!  She went back, week after week.  In fact, she told her older sister, and she started going.  This continued, but then one day, the message became the nourishment she wanted and she asked Jesus into her heart.

“I will gladly buy cookies and fruit drink every week,” repented the man.

What are you willing to do for someone else, so that they might hear the good news of Jesus Christ dying on a cross for our wrong doing, and the hope of eternal life?

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.” (Gal. 6:9 AMP)

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Spiritual Heart Murmurs

20180723_140043Doctor:  “Sit up straight and breathe normal.”  The doctor moved his stethoscope across my chest, and then around my back.  “Deep breaths.”  He listened.  For what?  Did he hear anything out of the ordinary?  Perhaps a murmur?  Was there reason for concern?

God:  What if God did that?  Listened to our hearts, and actually He does.  What would He hear?  A murmur?  Would there be any reason for concern?  So what would be a spiritual heart murmur?  Hatred?  Un-forgiveness?  Idolatry?  Lying?  A hurt?  Someone wronged you?

Search me, O God, and know my heart:  (Psa 139:23 KJV+)

Us:  What if we, God’s people, were walking around with spiritual stethoscopes?  Meaning; if we were talking to someone, we would take time to listen to their heart.  To actually hear if and what is causing them pain.  Then, what if we prayed with them right there, or promised to at a later time, and actually did?

Ask God to help you detect murmurs.  Your clue to stop and ask, “What’s wrong?”  Or, “How are you really doing?”  Doing this simple act might reduce the number of walking wounded around us.  Even better, would be to detect the problem early enough to prevent more serious heart damage.  Will you try?  Doing so, would show the other person you care, because God cares.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

What Makes a Good Bridge?

Bridge 2“Look, I’m not hurting anything.  I just want to sit here and rest,” he said.  To his right my church had a sign that stated, “No Loitering”
“It’s okay,” I replied in a gentle voice.
“Are you hungry?” I asked.
“Yes.”

I went and got him a sack of food we keep for such occasions, and some water.

“Here ya go.”
“Thank you.”
“Your welcome.  You mind if I hang out with you for a while?”
“Suit yourself,” he said as the sack crinkled while he checked out the food.
“What’s your name?”
“John,” he replied.  His eyes, piercing, as if searching my soul.

The small talk started.  It became clear he was a philosopher who didn’t have a place to hang his diploma.  He also had a sense of humor.  He shared he had made a mistake with his wife and kids, and she wasn’t willing to forgive.  I felt that was my que to talk about God’s forgiveness.  I tried hard to get him to come inside and sit in on the church service.

“I stink,” he kept saying.
“I assure you John, no one inside will care.”  He was right about the odor too, but he insisted on attending the church service there on the sidewalk.

We talked for another 30 minutes or so.  Before I left I offered to pray with him.

“You can do that in private, but not in front of me,”  he said.

I didn’t understand, but respected his wishes.  I’ve  looked, but have never seen John again.  Though thought of him often, I have prayed for him even more.  I regretted not taking him to a restaurant to get something hot to eat.  I also wish I had been brave enough to invite him to my house.  He could have showered, I could have washed his clothes, and he could have slept on a soft, warm surface, even if for one night.  I have consoled myself with knowing I did something, but I know I could have done more.  Perhaps next time I will.

Since I have never seen an episode of “Bridge Hunters” on HGTV he replied, “One that has a flat surface to sleep on, and that isn’t facing into the wind.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Check it out:  God never intended heaven to be served from earth.  heartland church

The Other Side of Pain

PAINP ersonal
A nguish
I ntense
N umbness

N eeds
I llustrated
A wareness
P rovided

Beautiful songs are composed out of PAIN.  Books, cards, and letters as well.  When one hears, or reads words that were birthed in PAIN, it resonates, it feels familiar, and it comforts.  It lets you know, “You’re not the only one who has felt this way.”

Respect PAIN, but don’t hang on to it too long.  Place it in the hands of the One who has felt the very same thing.  Jesus is there, waiting, loving, comforting.  Saying to you, “You’re not alone in this.”

Then, look around you.  There are people, who are a part of your world, who are hanging on to PAIN.  You can see it in their eyes.  For you saw it in yours, every time you looked in the mirror.  Get beside them.  Be Jesus in that moment to them, and say, “You’re not alone.  Let me show you how to give it to Jesus.”

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Check it out:  Inspired, rich words: believemiraclesblog.wordpress.com

Full Service

Fuel gauge 2A man wondered into the church.  He was hungry.  He was given a sack lunch.  The man was also deaf, but could read.  He understood two people in the church wanted to pray for his hearing, and he let them.  Then he shared his car was almost out of gas and he wouldn’t be able to get to work the next day.  One of the two went with him and filled up his car.  He shared while pumping the gas, God spoke to him and said, “Full Service.”  He knew what God meant, but to help him remember, he washed the windshield as well.

A person who has a need, is more apt to listen to you share God, after their immediate need is met.  Doing so, shows you really care for the “whole” person (Full Service).  There were times when Jesus healed one’s body, but also healed their heart.  Forgave them of their sins (Full Service).

When sharing God with another, keep an eye on the fuel gauge.  You never want to share more than the individual can hold.  When you share too much it spills over and makes a mess.  I learned this lesson while sharing God with a fellow commuter on the train.  She avoided me for the next several weeks.

Last of all, be careful with your attitude when serving.  Jesus said it best:

Mat 6:1  “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” (MSG)

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Check it out:
Honest words about finding her way:  https://katelynvallstruth.wordpress.com/