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.

God Day

Okay, I do realize that this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, but at the time of this writing it is the anniversary of my father’s death, so I was thinking about him as well.  Then a thought came flying down the big brain bypass.  I say “big brain” not because I am smart, but because I am always thinking.  The thought was, “What would God want for “God Day”?

Pastor Robert Morris says, “To find Biblical answers, you must look in the Bible.”

“I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Deu. 30:19-20 MSG.

God wants you to have life now and for eternity.  He wants to talk, yes talk to you.  He has a lot to say.  He created man in the first place to have someone who would choose to love him back by their own doing.  He wants to have a great relationship with you.  He hopes you will choose him, which is choosing life.

God is amazing.  He made us, therefore we belonged to him, but He gave us the freedom to choose to love him.  Then, after Adam and Eve sinned and mankind was doomed to eternal death, God gave us his only son to die a brutal death on a cross that purchased us back to God.  But then He did the most unselfish thing one could do afterwards, He gave us that freewill again to decide for ourselves if we want to love him.

God wants us to have a life full of the fruit of the spirit.  You know, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  That means, no one can police them, regulate them, market them, or stop them, but all mankind can profit from them.

Don’t you see?  God wants nothing but good for you, but the only thing He wants from you, is your heart.  I hope you have already given it to him, or you will, soon, perhaps even today.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Peace of Mind

One doesn’t have to look around very far, or watch the news very long to see there is a lack of peace in our world.  And social media, these days, should come with a pain scale.

When I try to watch the news I find myself yelling at the so called “leaders” of our country.  You know, just because they control the media doesn’t mean they are speaking truth.  I don’t like how I feel when that happens, or when I witness unrest.

I don’t think I am alone when I say, what I desire most, right now, is peace.  Last year, 2020, kept us on edge.  “What’s going to happen?”  “What do I need to do?”  “How can I stay safe?”  “Where can I find toilet paper?” “How do I keep those I love healthy?”

When Jesus found himself in a storm, he simply said, “Peace be still.”  Is that all it takes?  Well, sort of.  It’s a start.  It’s declaring, I’m not going to get caught up in all of the unrest.  I don’t have to state my position or opinions on social media.  I can turn on the TV in time to get my weather update and then turn it off again, and make an effort to stay away from world news.

Jesus offered us peace by trusting in him.

“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” John 14:27 (TPT)

Instead, I can commit to fill my mind, my time, my world with things I enjoy.  With things that build up, instead of teardown.  With activities, words, relationships that inspire, or bring peace.  It’s my world after all.  I do have a say so, and so do you.  Take control of your own life, when and where you can.  You will find more peace that way, and feel better too.

Peace out!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

You Were That, but Now You Are This

“You’re such a nice person,” said the new co-worker.  The woman had been hurt by many men in the past and so naturally she was leery of any man who seemed, “nice” in the beginning of a new relationship.  Evidently, trusting a nice man and letting her guard down has put her in the position to get hurt in the past, but this guy was different.  His attitude seemed real, genuine.  She wondered how this could be.

After meeting Jesus Christ, and accepting who he is as God’s son, that encounter should change you.  It changed Saul, who was later named “Paul”.  You see after Saul’s salvation, or conversion he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and into him entered the fruit of the Spirit.

13-14 Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man [Saul] and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

26-27 Back in Jerusalem he [Saul] tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t trust him one bit. Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus’ name.

28-30 After that he was accepted as one of them, going in and out of Jerusalem with no questions asked, uninhibited as he preached in the Master’s name.  Acts 9:13-14, 26-30 (MSG)

So what changes a person so drastically?  It’s the fruit of the Spirit.  Each attribute of the Spirit replaces one(s) in the flesh:

Love replaces hate.

Joy replaces sadness, depression.

Peace replaces nervousness, anxiety, fears.

Longsuffering replaces quick tempers.  Gives time for understanding.

Gentleness replaces anger, rage.

Goodness replaces selfishness.

Faith replaces worry, and hopelessness.

Having the fruit of the Spirit within you provides life, real life, the way God intended it.  People will see the difference and be drawn to you, but what they are really being drawn to is the heart of God.  If you have not been filled with the Spirit of God then ask God to fill you with his Spirit.  Then allow it to perfect your walk with God, and affect the world, the people around you.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

When Will God Show Up?

There is a lot going on in our world at this time.  Two weeks from today, America will decide to keep the president we currently have, or to elect a new one in.  The most trying thing concerning these times is, how will our decisions effect the future of America, our own lives, or the effect they will have on the world?

This kind of uncertainty can be unnerving, even scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

I’m sure there are people all around the world asking the same question, “When will God show up?”  I share this message with you this day,

He already has!

You see when Jesus died on the cross the veil in the temple of God ripped from top to bottom, and this was no thin, cheap curtain either one might purchase at a discount store.  The only way that curtain could be ripped was by God.  He did it to show that now, through the death of his only son, when we accept Jesus into our lives we can enter into the very presence of God any time we want to.

As a result, for the people who believe in God, his presence is with us as we now are the temple of God.  And we take his presence everywhere we go into the world, and into our homes.  Those are the places where people are, and those people need to see God through us.  The peace He gives unto us to live in the current times we are in.

There are a lot of lies out there being spread.  You could call it, “Fake News”.  Always ask God what He says about the things others are telling us.  Remember this, just because it is on the news or on the internet does not make it true.  Even if part of it is true, God has the final word.

Believers need to place their hope and trust in God, knowing that they are his children, and God, being the loving father He is, takes care of his children.

When others are running aimlessly around in fear they will notice the peace and calm that is within you.  Remember as God’s temple, take his presence to the people of the world.  Be visible, be vocal, so they too may have the hope and peace you have.

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.

Do You Have God’s DNA?

082820 2God’s love, flowing over your soul is like a soft quilt.  You feel warmth, and soothing comfort.  There does seem to be a reverent amount of satisfaction in saying, “I’m a child of God.”  Walking around as if wearing a robe, a mantle, when once seen by others they know immediately you are royalty.  They respond either with respect, or jealously, envy.  They put themselves in a position to help you, or fight you.  People can sense your anointing.  Some are drawn to it, yet others run from it.  It’s not in your control, it just happens.

Pray for both.  Pray that God will bless, lead, and strengthen the ones that are attracted to the anointing on you, and pray God will help align a proper attitude in the ones who resist you, reject you, and simply try to hurt you.

Bless others with your position of power.  Do not use it to cause harm.  Wear the ring which displays the family crest, as a symbol to all that in you, is the mighty, unfailing love of God.  In you they see peace, they see joy, and they see in you a calming spirit despite the turmoil around us.  A spirit of confidence as if you have looked around the corner and somehow you know what is coming next, yet you are not moved.  They see a rock that protrudes out of the stormy waters.  A place of solitude where safety can be found.  You have what you are in need of.  You may not have an abundance, but you have enough, and even some to share with another.  You may stumble, but you do not fall.  You walk with your head up, facing what comes your way, because you know where your next step is, and you take it without fear.

This is what it means to be a child of God, to have his DNA inside of you.  If you can identify, then simply smile.  If you can’t, then I pray you will be drawn to this kind of life.  It can be attained with a simple request of God to come into your life, to make your heart right.  Then, and this next step is vital, get to know your heavenly Father, because the things you want to become, are found in him.  Jesus said, “I only do what I see my Father in heaven do.” (John 5:19-20)

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Be the Movie

A month ago I was the guest speaker at a writer’s group meeting.  It was an honor, but this speaking engagement was different.  You see with Covid-19 still a great risk, the group currently meets on-line.  I had never done that before.

I was using my phone to attend the meeting, and the way it was set up, whoever was speaking is the person I viewed.  The president of this group introduced me, so she was the last person I saw.

About 20 minutes into my talk, she gets up and goes elsewhere, leaving me with no one to look at while I was speaking.  Normally, a speaker will scan the attendees, making eye contact, and looking for positive feedback at what is being said.

A few minutes later, she came back with a bowl of what looked like popcorn, and a drink.  I thought, wow! now I know what it feels like to be a movie.

The truth is this; if you are open and outspoken about your faith, your relationship with God, then people are watching you.  They listen to what you say, about current issues, our government leaders, and others around us.  They watch how we respond to troubling times.

Would the people watching you give a positive review on “Rotten Tomatoes”?  What if we had “Yelp” for humans?  Would you, would I, receive a thumbs up, or down?  Would people want to visit us after reading an accurate review on one of these platforms?  Probably not, if it was negative.

“So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.”
John 13:34-35 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Jesus knew people will watch us, for they watched him.  He was ever aware that he could only display the qualities of his father, God.  Those would be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

So be aware of this no matter where you are, whether at work, out and about, or at home.  You want your life to be a movie people want to see over and over again.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Establish the Mood

062320What happens when you walk into a room of people?  Are they glad to see you, or do they cringe?  Do they come up to you and greet you, or do they pretend to be busy, and walk away hoping to avoid you?  I had a boss that every morning when I saw her enter our department, I knew my peace was about to leave.

What kind of mood encompasses us, goes with us and enters, when we do?  Does your very presence change the environment, the atmosphere of a place?  It should.

Back when I worked in an office building, in Chicago, I took on the challenge of trying my best to put a smile on my fellow passenger’s faces while we were in the elevator.  Difficult, because some of them got off on the lower floors, giving me only seconds to come up with something to do or say that would change them.  That would leave them better when they got off the elevator than when they got on.  Pun intended, my words could lift them up, or let them down.

Once there were several people entering the elevator.  I said, “Call out the floor you need.”  They did, then I announced, “I like pushing people’s buttons.”  I wonder if that was some’s only laugh for the whole day?

As the years went by, people would get on the elevator, see me, and smile immediately.  I’m not boasting, because I knew two things:

  1. The love and joy in my life, I shared with others, only came from God.

  2. I entered the elevator on purpose, with a purpose.

For those who have accepted God, have his love, his truth, and his life inside, we can change, or flip the environment of a home, office, church, store, or wherever we go, just by walking in.  Oh, how the world needs us to enter their lives and shatter the darkness they dwell in with the light of God!  “Let there be light!”  Offer them the hope of Jesus.  When we welcome the presence of God in our lives He goes with us.  People sense it, and are either drawn to it, or openly resist it.

No matter where your feet take you, take God.

Be there on purpose, with a purpose.  Be mindful of those around you.  Roger, a good friend of mine, does this every day when he goes to work.  Share hope, peace, faith and love.  Scatter lots of joy.  Show everyone there is a better way to live.  Make them curious how you can still be smiling despite all that is going on around us.  Establish the mood!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Simply Love

Racism.  Injustice.  Hate.  Protest.  Peace rallies turned into riots.  You know what I am talking about, or referring to.  It’s sad to see so many unhappy, hurting, people.  They can’t take it anymore, and their hearts are crying out for something to believe in that won’t cause anymore pain.  Ever since Adam and Eve, mankind has been saying, “I know what is good and what is evil.”  You see, before they ate the fruit God told them what was good, and He told them what was evil, but they were deceived.

Today, mankind is still being deceived, thinking “they” know what is right, and that “they” know what is evil.  Like Adam and Eve, they won’t be told by anyone else, especially by God.  Can we all agree on the fact each man defining good and evil, on his own terms, isn’t working?

So what’s the solution?

Love.  It’s the only answer.  You see, love, love for others helps you listen to someone else.  It empowers you to understand their views, their values.  Not adopt them, but listen to them.  People just want to be heard.  When I was doing church security, we sometimes had someone come in and interrupt the service.  After I escorted them out, I would always give them a chance to say what they wanted us to hear.  I didn’t care, or really listened, but it was amazing how it calmed them down.

Love says, I accept you no matter where you are from, what color your skin is, or what you believe.  Love helps you not get angry if their views are a lot different than yours.  Love strengthens you to not remember what one might say that hurts you.  Love empowers you to be kind, patient, and not to become easily angered.  Love allows you to want the best for someone else.

The truth is this; love works and will work, because it never fails.  That’s why God puts a big emphasis on accepting love and in fact, God is love.

Can we all try love?  Please?

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.