The year was about 1981. The place was Woodlake Assembly of God church, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The evening’s speaker was Rev. Dan Betzer. Rev. Betzer has one of those voices like James Earl Jones. He was an anchorman in Buffalo, NY. I believe he mentioned, where he confessed to not being able to say, “hypodermic needle”. He said no matter how hard he tried it always came out as, “hypodemic nerdle”. He was also the voice of an Assembly of God radio program for many years. He is currently a pastor in Ft. Myers, Florida.

Rev. Betzer delivered a dynamic message that I remember in detail some 41 years later. Yeah, it was that good, inspiring, powerful, and truthful. Perhaps one of these days I’ll post it. But only a portion of it do I want to share now:

A young man became the new associate pastor of a thriving church. On his first Sunday morning, he stood on the platform next to the pastor staring at the standing congregation. The sound of small conversations could be heard. Nervously he leaned over and asked the pastor, “What are we waiting on?” The pastor leaned back and whispered, “The organist.” “Where are they?” he asked. “She’s late. She’s always late.”
A few minutes later a side door of the sanctuary flung open and in walked a large woman dangling keys. She dramatically flipped her dress and proceeded to the organ used one of the keys to unlock it and then turned it on. Everyone heard the old organ warm-up and then she nodded to the worship leader who then led the congregation in that day’s selection of hymns.
The next morning after the pastor went over some announcements in their staff meeting the new associate pastor brought up the situation of the late organist. “Why do you put up with that?” he asked. “Because she is the only one who has a key to the organ,” replied the pastor. “Well, why don’t you ask her for it?” The pastor looked at the young naïve man and said, “You’re the new pastor here, you ask her!”
Seeing no harm in asking for the key to the organ he phoned the woman and made an appointment to visit her at her home. He informed her he desired to meet with each person in the church to get to know them.
After he arrived, he settled in and started his chit-chat while drinking some tea and eating one of the freshly baked cookies she had made for the occasion. Then he made his move and asked her for the key to the organ so they could have someone show up on time and have the organ warmed up and ready for the morning worship service. “What? No way! I will not turn over that key to you, the pastor, or anyone else! You see my family donated that organ and I have been the only one to play it for the past 35 years! Now I am going to have to ask you to leave!” demanded the woman. “But I haven’t finished my cookie,” the now a little older associate pastor replied. “GET OUT!” she shouted.
The following Sunday morning the organist showed up ten minutes late as was her custom but when she flung the door to the sanctuary open she heard the congregation in the middle of a glorious hymn and she saw someone else playing the organ. She was outraged. After the service, she bee-lined it to the new associate pastor. “How dare you! How dare you have someone else play the very organ that my family donated. And how in the world did you get it unlocked, anyway? I didn’t give you the key!” The associate pastor looked at her, smiled, and said, “Ma’am, there isn’t anything that God and a crowbar can’t accomplish!”

Yes, those listening to Rev. Betzer laughed as you probably are now, but he went on:

You see that organist will stand before God one day and He will ask her, “While you were on earth what did you do for me?” She will most likely say, “Well, you see God, I faithfully played the organ, which my family so generously donated, for thirty-five years!” God will no doubt look intently at her and ask, “Why?”

What is your motivation for serving God? Are you doing it for the right reasons? Do you have the right attitude to go along with that motivation? I hope so. If after searching your heart and being honest with yourself, if there is any reason other than the right ones, then I hope you correct them, or at least be willing to give up the key.

(Thank you, Rev. Betzer, for your faithfulness to God for over 60 years of ministry. God used you to make an impact on me when I was a young, naïve associate pastor.)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

It’s Christmas at Denny’s Tonight

I dream of what my life might have been, if only…

Do you live with regret?  I could, if I allowed myself to.  I sometimes wonder what the church would look like if I had stayed on track and became the pastor I believed God had called me to be.  Would we, the people of the church be an Acts chapter 2 type of church?  Believing in, and walking out the power of the Holy Spirit.  Would we see souls saved daily?  What about signs and wonders?  If only.

But instead, I stopped holding on to, waiting for the promises of God, and I accepted the devil’s substitute for my life, because it was there, now, in the moment.  I just had to believe the lies he was telling me that it was okay.  Kind of like accepting the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, Satan tempts or attacks us where we are weak.

Life didn’t end there, for me, as I imagined it would.  I could have become a shell of a man.  I didn’t.  I received God’s forgiveness, asked that his Spirit not depart from me, and moved on.  That is what one should do when things don’t work out the way we think they should.

I read a post on Facebook the other day.  A young woman just had a child in the hospital, but after returning home her and her husband came down with Covid.  The baby was fine, but had to be separated from his new mother.  The baby’s father had to return to the hospital, this time in the intensive care unit.  The young mother wrote something along the lines of, “We dreamed of hiking in the mountains with a tour guide.  But now we are hiking through this with the Lord as our guide.”

Life is not going the way they dreamed, but her focus remains on target.  On the Lord.

That is the only way to deal with potential regret.  Give it to him, and continue to seek him for guidance, for his leading.  He knows the way.  Life may feel like Christmas at Denny’s, but it doesn’t have to.  It comes down to your perspective.  Your view of life.  Is your current situation a set back?  A delay?  A roadblock, or simply a detour?  No matter what it is, God can speak into your spirit and say, “Recalculating.”  God knows the way.  He will get you through the storm and to the other side.

Trust in the Lord completely,
    and do not rely on your own opinions.
    With all your heart rely on him to guide you,
    and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
    and he will lead you wherever you go Prov. 3:5-6 (TPT)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What’s the Problem?

Life can come at you hard and fast at times.  Bills you can’t pay arrive in the mail.  A routine checkup delivers a death sentence.  Your spouse announces their love for you has run dry.  Yes, these may be the extreme cases of life, but even the everyday life can cause you to gasp for air.  You feel, “If I could only reach the surface, I could breath.”

It is in those moments having a trusted friend helps.  So does having a church to go to where God has prepared a meal for you from his word via your pastor.  There are also an abundance of messages online, or on YouTube.  Listening to someone else’s testimony can encourage your faith, but keep in mind, just because God did something in one person’s life in a particular way does not mean He will do it that way in your life.  The point of a story, or testimony is to help you believe, be convinced, God sees you, knows you, loves you and wants to be active in your life,

Keep this fact in mind; Jesus went to the cross.  He died on that cross.  His body was removed from that cross, so he is no longer suffering to the point of death.  Then, three days after his body was placed in the tomb to rot, to decay, to go away, he overcame the chains of death.  He arose from the dead.  The stone was rolled away and the light of the morning became his “exit” sign.

My point is this: if you believe in Jesus and the power he demonstrated, and you place your trust in him and you believe that he overcame and can empower you, and lead you to be an overcomer then what’s the problem?

It’s not ignoring the issue(s) of life, but placing them in the hands of the One who overcame not only life, but death!  The problem you are currently dealing with does not own you.  It does not define you.  It has no power over you, because if you give it to Jesus, then you will overcome it.  Not only will you look at it in the rearview mirror someday, but you will recount the story of it, to others, to encourage them.  To help them overcome their current situation as well.

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”  John 16:33 (MSG)

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.