What To Do

A whole lot is going on these days in our world, in America, and most likely in your private lives. It would be easy for one to look at others and focus on what they are saying or doing. One may be invading a country another maybe ignoring that a lot of Americans are financially struggling, and a lot of people are more concerned about their own selfish rights than the life of a child who can’t yet protest their opinion of wanting to live.

I can just see the devil having a hay day laughing while so many people are running around screaming trying to get their view heard. He is behind these evil things, unjust actions, and selfish rights.

Instead of joining those trying to be heard I implore you to keep your eyes on Jesus! To keep a good, strong, and tight connection to the vine. Continue to bear, produce much fruit, the fresh fruit of God.

Psalm 1   The Message

How well God must like you—
    you don’t walk in the ruts of those blind-as-bats,
    you don’t stand with the good-for-nothings,
    you don’t take your seat among the know-it-alls.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.

4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take.
The road they take leads to nowhere.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

I Was Found Guilty!

“Mark, you have the right to remain silent. In fact, just don’t say anything at all unless I ask you to. Anything you do say will definitely be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, and at the age of seven I doubt you can, one will be appointed for you, but you won’t find any available.”

I appealed to have my hearing moved to the neighbor’s house, hoping that would allow for a fair trial, or at least a lighter sentence. The judge denied my request. As we begin, I looked around and failed to see a jury of my six, seven, and eight-year-old peers.

“Mark, where were you on the morning of July 7th?” asked my mother.

“I was in my bedroom, building a new train station,” I replied.

“Did you or did you not take cookies from the cookie jar after being told not to?” she persisted while raising her voice hoping I would crack.

Sweat began to bubble up on my back. “No. It wasn’t me.”

“You sure?”

“Yes!”

“That’s odd because I have an eyewitness that says you did.”

Gees! My accuser struck again. Seems like my older sister always caught me doing what I wasn’t supposed to be doing, and then she would run and tell my mother. In this case I was found guilty as charged. I would forever be known as a convicted cookie thief.

We all will stand before God one day. And the accuser of the brethren will be there telling on us. Informing God what we did wrong, our sins while we were on earth. We will be found guilty. But then, Jesus Christ will step forward and say to his Heavenly Father, “No punishment will be necessary. I have already paid the wages of their sin. We will escape eternal damnation, and not spend eternity in hell.

Jesus Christ did that for every one of us, out of love. Out of obedience to his Heavenly Father, God. It’s there for the asking, and it’s free. His forgiveness of our wrongdoing means we can no longer be known as a cookie thief or be forced to wear any other degrading title. We will be known as children of God and invited to enter heaven, and live happily ever after.

Salvation and power are established!
    Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah!
The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out,
    who accused them day and night before God.
They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb
    and the bold word of their witness. Rev. 12:10-11 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God, Crazy?

If you created something, perfected it, and then gave it away, most would call you crazy!

If you gave your only child’s life, so that someone else could live, most would call you crazy!

God did those very things. He made you, and then gave you away to exercise your own freewill! And when you failed, and would then die for eternity in hell, he gave you his only Son, Jesus to pay for your failures, sins. Jesus’ blood was spilled for you. God’s only Son purchased you back, so you could live for eternity in heaven with your maker. BUT then he gave you away again, because He wants you to CHOOSE to love him, and accept him.

Some might call what God did, “crazy”,
but He calls it, “love”!

Yes, God loves you that much! It doesn’t matter what you have done, He loves you regardless.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18 (MSG)

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Rom. 8:37-39 (MSG)

“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.  Isaiah 55:8-9 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Who’s it For?

“Hi. How can I help you?”

“I need to…”  “Sorry.”

“It’s quite alright.”

“I need to pick out a casket.”

“Okay. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thanks.”

“Step this way. Did you have something in mind?”

“Yeah. Nothing ‘over the top’. It should be simple, but natural looking. Not that there is anything ‘natural’ about dying. I think it should reflect the kind of life the one lived who will be using it.”

“I understand. What do you think of this model over here?”

“Model? Gees! You make it sound like they are vehicles that transport the dead into eternity. Is this the newest model or a late model?”

“My apologies sir. It’s a particular style of casket. It’s in our ‘Wood Grain’ family.”

“Umm, not bad. May I see the interior, please?”

“Of course.”

“No squeaks. That’s good. Wouldn’t want to scare any children that may be at the funeral. I guess that one will do.”

“Very good, sir. Why don’t we go back to my office now and we can start the paper work.”

“You mean loan papers don’t you? With what these cost and everything.”

“Sir, they must be paid for upfront. We certainly don’t have a ‘Lay-a-way’ plan here.”

“Is that supposed to be funny?”

“It was.”

“Oh. Well I guess it kind of was. I’m just not in a laughing mood.”

“My apologies, sir.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it.”

“Ok. Tell me about the deceased.”

“In general, all his life he tried his best to be a good man. To live according to God’s words, and overall, live a life pleasing to God. He was born here in this town, reared here also, but lived in several other places as an adult. He loved to travel. He was married twice, to two different women, had two children and two grandchildren. His first wife poisoned his children about him though, so after they became young adults they told their father he was a horrible man, and they never wanted to see him ever again.”

“Was he?”

“What?”

“A bad man.”

“No. Not perfect, but not bad either. He provided everything he possibly could for his children. Even though he was paying child support, if he saw his kids had a need, he met it. He took them places in America too. They loved traveling as much as he did. He also took them to church. He introduced them to the loving, one, true, God of the universe. He was faithful in taking them there so their faith could grow.

I guess it has become obvious which force won his kids over. They chose ‘evil’ over ‘good’. They know that their sins will cost them their life for eternity, but even though they saw ‘God” at work in the life of their father, it didn’t make the impact it should have. That broke his heart more than not getting to see and spoil his grandchildren.”

“That’s too bad. Seeing, or hearing from their father most likely brought on guilt, and the Holy Spirit bringing to their mind they should be living for God, instead of for themselves. By the way, I’ll also need where all he went to school, and the primary places he lived and worked, and for how many years. Any affiliations he was associated with and any other hobbies he had. Oh! One thing I failed to ask, who’s the casket for?”

“Sir?”

“Sir?”

“Who’s the casket for?”

“Me.”

Hebrews 9:27 (MSG) Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Look in the Mirror

What makes people decide to accept God?

  1. The airplane is about to crash!
  2. They’re afraid of hell.
  3. A life changing moment.
  4. They are so moved by the love of God.

For me, it was the second one.  I was only 7 and we attended a church that was pastored by a “hell fire and brimstone” preacher.  Meaning, he held nothing back when it came to sharing what sin, wrong doing in your life, truly cost. At that age, I was a convicted cookie thief!  I disobeyed my mother and then would lie about it.  I was afraid if I died without God’s forgiveness I would go to hell. As I got older I learned being saved from your sins was actually about having a relationship with a loving God through Jesus.

But for others what is it? What has to happen in their life to get them to realize how loving God is? Do they need to be face to face with death before they will finally make a decision? What if they don’t have a conscience mind when they are crossing the threshold between life and death? By not making a decision is making a decision.

58 Then they pounced on him and threw him outside the city walls to stone him. His accusers, one by one, placed their outer garments at the feet of a young man named Saul of Tarsus. 59 As they hurled stone after stone at him, Stephen prayed, “Our Lord Jesus, accept my spirit into your presence.” 60 He crumpled to his knees and shouted in a loud voice, “Our Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” And then he died.
Acts 7:58-60 (TPT)

I am convinced this really messed with Saul.  So because the Holy Spirit had been drawing him to God, when he saw Jesus appear he was ready to believe. You see, God had been pursuing Saul.

So he obtained the authorization and left for Damascus. Just outside the city, a brilliant light flashing from heaven suddenly exploded all around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a booming voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5–7 The men accompanying Saul were stunned and speechless, for they heard a heavenly voice but could see no one. Saul replied, “Who are you, Lord?” “I am Jesus, the Victorious, the one you are persecuting Acts 9:3-7 (TPT)

Talk about a life changing moment! Wow.

God is pursuing you too! If you pay attention to moments in life you will see God. You bump into him more than you realize. It’s like the car mirror, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. God is closer than you think.

“The only way people come to me is by the Father who sent me—he pulls on their hearts to embrace me. And those who are drawn to me, I will certainly raise them up in the last day.” John6:44 (TPT)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Joy to the World

I notice things.  Annoying to April, but I think it helps me as a writer. Regardless, this holiday season I have noticed the word, “joy” everywhere.  On buttons worn by Walmart employees, in TV commercials, in print, and placed on products.  It almost seems as if after the last two years we have had experienced people are desperate for some “joy” in their lives!

They want it bad, so they declare it, they proclaim it, and they even wear it.  People want “joy”, they need “joy”.  But saying it, wishing for it, doesn’t make “joy” appear.  Not real joy anyway.  Real, lasting “joy” can only be found in Jesus Christ.  By giving your life to him and recognizing that He gave his life to you.  To die for you, as a sacrifice for every little thing you have ever done wrong in your life, otherwise known as “sin”.  Real joy is:

J = Jesus
O = others
Y = you

You accept Jesus, make him the most important person in your life, read the book his father wrote, and learn to take on his nature, then “joy” begins.  The next step in finding real “joy” is putting others before yourself.

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.
Mat. 22:37-39 (MSG)

This is the formula for finding “joy”, not just at Christmas time, but all year round.  Serving others brings “joy” as well.  Another way to find “joy” is to marry it.  You see I was divorced for 24 years.  I was content with that, well most of the time, but I longed for joy.  My first marriage had its good moments, but I always felt in my heart that it could be better.  And now I know I was right.  You see my second wife’s name is, “April Joy”.  I have said it before, but when I am doing my part, to love her as Christ loves the church, then she fills my life with so much “joy” words cannot describe.  She knows the formula for “joy”, and she is so full of the love of God in her life.  That love oozes out and covers others.

Yes, it’s Christmas, and certainly “Joy to the World” indeed, but if you want real “joy” that can last a lifetime then pursue Jesus, love others, and love yourself.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Diabolical

In pouring through the case file I came across a photo of the woman, we were after, and her young son.  As I studied the photograph I saw he was holding a large, light blue teddy bear.  The photo was old because the bear was almost as big as he was back then, but now he is much older.  “That’s it!” I thought.  “We’ve got her now.”

A few hours later, we were in place.  The woman was hiding out in an old abandoned warehouse.  She had been on the run for a few years now.  She made no purchases herself or appeared in public.  She had help, a support network to keep her whereabouts secret.  That is until one of those with her turned against her and disclosed her location to one of my associates.

I walked up to the front of the warehouse carrying the bear.  The same one her son used to have.  I walked away and then we announced over a bullhorn that we had her son.  A few minutes later the door to the warehouse opened and someone, other than her, reached through it and grabbed the bear.  About fifteen minutes later the woman gave herself up.

This peaceful capture of a fugitive worked because we hit her where she was weak.  We realized she probably struggled every day with the guilt of leaving her son behind in order to live a life of crime, and to stay hidden so she could be what she thought was free.  But what kind of freedom is it to never be able to show your face in public, or hug your son?

Okay, in full disclosure, I borrowed the above plot, with a little bit of tweaking from a well written, popular TV drama on Netflix.  I did so to make a couple of points:

  1. Satan knows where you are weak, and he will do anything to attack you in that place.  He does not play fair at all. His operation is completely diabolical. He hates God, and to him, you are nothing but a pawn in the battle over souls.  The devil lies, steals, and cheats to build his kingdom.  God uses love to build his kingdom. And He gave as well.  He gave us his only Son to die for us, so we could live.
  2. True freedom is in Christ Jesus.  Having your sins forgiven, your wrong doing wiped away by the action of Jesus on the cross.  You see, when your sins are forgiven there is nothing the devil can use to attack you.  You don’t live with guilt, or regret.  You have the word of God that can be used against the devil to resist temptation as well.  But wait, there’s more!  You have the power of all of heaven on your side to help fight the battle and to stand firm.

Stop the sneaky attacks of Satan once and for all.  Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and enter into a realm of living in freedom.  Bask in the love of God and share this Truth with others, so they too can experience God, experience life the way God intended it to be.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Aren’t You Glad She Ain’t God?

I was sharing with my friend that I had been talking to a woman last week, who questioned how in the world could King David be considered such a man of God?  “After all,” she said, “he had an affair with Bathsheba, and after learning she was pregnant he had her husband killed.”  Yes, King David sinned, had a moral failure, but after being confronted by the prophet Nathan, repented and begged God not to remove his Holy Spirit from him.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

The entire chapter of Psalms 51 is a prayer of repentance.  King David was confident that God could, and would forgive him.  He also knew the feeling of awesomeness of being in the very presence of God, and he knew of the power of the Holy Spirit, because he had experienced it firsthand.

God did forgive him.  If God would forgive him, then why wouldn’t the woman I was talking to forgive him?  Mankind is the one who rates sin.  Has the woman never sinned herself?  True forgiveness forgives and then moves on.  Even God separates our sins as far as the East is from the West. (Ps. 103:12)  Another important issue is this; if the woman hasn’t truly forgiven King David, can God forgive her of her sins?

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Mat. 6:14-15 (NKJV)

This makes me wonder, who else has she not forgiven?  Perhaps even her own family members?  If that is the case then how sad for her.  Those not forgiven by her will go on with their lives regardless, so the result only hurts her.  At the end of my sharing with my friend he said to me, “Aren’t you glad she ain’t God?”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

“One Way, or Round Trip?”

Unfortunately, death has been all around me lately.  Not in my personal family, but in the families of others and some people I know.  My mother-in-law informed us on the street she lives, there is one person, or more who die every day.  She lives in the Philippines.  Covid is a thief of life!

But yet others have passed away from illnesses and diseases we are more acquainted with, like cancer.  Losing a family member, friend, neighbor, or a coworker hurts.  We mourn, grieve, and cry, because we will miss them, and that’s understood.  Although the pain can be great, when one we know passes but has first accepted Jesus Christ as God’s son, and has made a public confession of their faith in him, then we can be assured we will see them again.  Our grief is temporary as the sting of death first hits us.  That statement is only true if we too have accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts, asking him to forgive us of every wrong thing we have ever done.  I sense I need to write that there is nothing you have done that God will not forgive, nothing!

I had a coworker several years back that believed in reincarnation.  I learned that as we talked about life after death while riding the commuter train out of Chicago, IL.  We respected each other’s views and opinions.  You might say he believed that life offered up “Round Trip” tickets.  My view was it’s a “One Way” ticket.  Meaning, you only get one opportunity to make that important decision to accept Jesus.

27 Every human being is appointed to die once, and then to face God’s judgment. 28 But when we die we will be face-to-face with Christ, the One who experienced death once for all to bear the sins of many!  Heb. 9:27-28 (TPT)

As my friend and I debarked the train, I turned to him and said, “If you are right, and I am wrong, then I have nothing to be concerned about.  But if I am right, and you are wrong, then you will find yourself standing before God explaining to him why you didn’t accept him in your one life.”  I went on to explain that the wages of sin, unforgiven wrong deeds, is death.  For eternity!  As one of my cousins said, “Eternity is a very long time!”

So I ask you, before you die, “Would you like a one way ticket?”  Oh, and by the way, no charge.  Jesus paid the price for you when he died on the cross.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

You Have a Friend in Me

friend

  1. a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

So what’s your definition of a friend?  A true friend is difficult to find.  And when you think you have found one, it can take more time to know if you can completely trust them.  Do you have such a friend?

The Bible talks about, “Confess your sins one to another.” (James 5:16)  After becoming aware of this scripture I first thought, “No way!”  And for many years I didn’t.  How in the world could you trust someone with the darkest side of you?  Here is a good test to see if you can trust a friend with something you did wrong.  You tell them something, that if it got out would be embarrassing, but not career ending.  Then, you can feel safe confessing your sins.

I have such a friend.  It took a few years of getting to know him before I knew I could trust him with anything.  I have told him things I have not spoken of to any other living person.  He has shared likewise.  I value my friendship with him very much.  We talk to each other every week.  As well, we pray, intercede, and there are times when one of us has to correct the other’s attitude toward another person or situation.  I thank God for him, for he is a sure gift from God.

The great philosopher Woody, from the movie “Toy Story” put it like this:

You’ve got troubles, and I’ve got ’em, too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together and we see it through
‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me

I hope you have such a friend.  If not I pray you would find one, and if you don’t, you should ask God to help you find one.  You will be glad you did.  I should also add, if someone opens up their heart, and confesses a sin in their life to you, please do not speak of it to anyone else.  The damage you could cause may take years to heal in them, if they ever do.

Like my trusted friend once said, after revealing a sin in his life, “Wow, I feel so much better, and lighter after sharing that with you.”  That is something you can’t put a price tag on.  It’s priceless!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.