Initial Words

“What’s that symbol tattooed on your back?” I asked the girl I worked with.  I knew, I thought, what it was, but had not seen one that elaborate.  “It’s a pentagram,” she replied.  “I’m a Pagan.”  “Oh, well I don’t judge,” were my initial words.  She said, “I know.”  I wasn’t exactly sure why she said that, but she did.

Because of my cautious and prayerfully planned out approach to the inquisition, I found out later it’s what I “didn’t say” that allowed for an ongoing conversation concerning her beliefs and spiritual practices vs. my own to take place.

Now, you may find it odd knowing a Christian is even talking to a Pagan, but I ask you, “Why?”  Jesus was misunderstood for talking to tax collectors, or prostitutes, and he about gave the so called “religious leaders” of his day, a heart attack if he dined with them.

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and misfits?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” Mat. 9:10-13 (MSG)

Why venture outside of your comfort zone, and talk with those who choose to live a different lifestyle than you?

Because they need to know, see, and hear the love of Jesus as much as anyone else, perhaps more!

They need to feel what is authentic and that might help them reject, cast off, Satan’s cheap substitutes or imitations of what is real.

So what was it that I “didn’t” say to the self-proclaimed Pagan?  After hearing what she was, I didn’t say, “Oh, I’ll be praying for you.”  She explained hearing those words infuriates her, and she refuses to listen to anything else a person who says that has to say.  She said it immediately makes her feel as if her choice is wrong.

Say a prayer before engaging one that you know is living a life less than what God intended.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your tongue, as you dare, or take a risk to speak words of life to them.  Your initial words may be the only ones they hear, but hopefully they’ll stick around to hear more, and perhaps even dine with you.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Drive thru God

Then Eliphaz from Teman spoke up:

“Would you mind if I said something to you?
    Under the circumstances it’s hard to keep quiet.
You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words
    that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit.
Your words have put stumbling people on their feet,
    put fresh hope in people about to collapse.
But now you’re the one in trouble—you’re hurting!
    You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow.
But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?
    Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?  Job 4:1-6 (MSG)

Do you find it difficult to encourage yourself, even with the very words you have used with others?  I do.  At times it seems impossible to find hope and peace when you look at your own life.  Funny, how sure you are of the power of the words you spoke to another, but when it comes to applying them to your situation, not so much.  They seem empty.

In the above portion of scripture, Job’s friend, Eliphaz (it’s ok, I don’t know how to pronounce it either) was trying to remind him of what he has done to help others.  What he has said that encouraged, lifted up, and gave them hope.  Then he asked two very good questions. “Shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?  Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?”

The answer is, “YES!”  It should, and will if you allow it.  God hasn’t changed, just your current situation has.  I struggled with this myself as I have described in recent post.  Yes, I knew better, and after giving it a lot of thought I think I have figured out partly why.  Time.

We live in such an instant gratification world that we expect everything to get resolved fast.  I mean, we have fast food, Prime same day delivery, one hour photos, why not “Fast God”?  Would it be asking too much for God to open up a drive thru?

Time seems to do a work in us.  Someone once said, “Time heals all wounds.”  Not sure about that.  It does seem to make us take survey of our lives though.  I think there are some things we go through when God gives us the time we need to know the bottom line is, we need him to do his best work in the situation.  I know the end of Job’s story and that is what happened in his life.  God did a work in the heart of Job by allowing tragedy to strike.

God really does work all things to his glory.

“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”  Rom. 8:26-28 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 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.

The Fruit Section of Life

Your life has come to an end.  As happens after every death, people will reflect on what kind of person you were, or at least what kind of person you were to them.  Without a doubt, their decision will be based solely on how you treated them, or responded to their behavior.  There are times though when you will be judged, and remembered unfairly.  A person’s mind is powerful, so much so, it can bend truth.

What is it people see that makes up one’s mind considering you?  It’s the fruit your life bears.  Is that fruit sweet, or sour?  Does your life, your words, your actions leave a good taste in the mouths of others, or do they want to spit them out?  Jesus even eluded to the fact people are known by the fruit their life bears.

And I don’t mean like, someone is bananas!

I’m referring to the fruit of the spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

If there is no law against these fruits, then they cannot be judged.

The way for the fruit of your life to be, and stay healthy is for you to always stay connected to the vine.  Jesus instructs us with these words in John 15 from The Passion Translation:

Jesus the Living Vine

“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!

The purpose of operating in the fruit of the Spirit of God isn’t so people will know us as good, or even great, but that God will be glorified.  If you are in need of getting back to the vine, Jesus, then by all means do it.  There are too many people out there who are not connected to Jesus and they do a lot of damage in the lives of others.  And if you need some help, I’ve heard of a product called, “Miracle Grow”.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

Words Unsaid

20181129_173114I was looking for my leftover Christmas cards when I came across a Father’s Day card that never got sent this year, because he passed the previous month.  It caused me to pause and think about words unsaid.

“People matter,” you’ve heard it said, but do you act like it?  Do you take the time for the ones who mean the most to you?  Do you tell them how much you love and or appreciate them?  I know, it’s hard when life seems to move at Mach 2, but it’s important.  And the thing is, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost anything at all.

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God.” (Phi 1:3 MSG)

In the season of giving, give words!

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved