What Do You Do?

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - What Do You Do?

My job title doesn’t sound too shabby. Actually, I’m honored to do what I do professionally.

But, I’ve always found the question, “What do you do?” off-putting.

I hate it actually, and I’ve never really understood why, until now.

Ask a flower, or any living thing what it does and the answer is simple and profound, “It passes on life.”

When people ask this question, it’s largely a product of the plastic, manufactured system of this world.

And, when people ask, “What do you do?”, it’s though they’re sitting back waiting to calculate how much respect to give you as though your value is being assessed on the Dow Jones.

The question is essentially asking “What thing do you produce that might be of value to me according to this world’s value system?”

But, we’re not machines on a production line, we’re persons —we’re living things.

And, as with all living things, we’re part of a delicate ecosystem. Something that seems small and insignificant, such as the seemingly benign phytoplankton or the understated honey bee, would spell utter disaster for the entire world if they were loss.

God speaks of us as members of a body, a living thing, having placed each one of us purposefully, as He pleases:

“But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.”
—1 Corinthians 12:18


But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.
—1 Corinthians 12:20-22

So, we are not machines to produce dumb things to be sold and traded, but we are persons, living things created for a purpose: to pass on life.

And, what is life?

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
—John 17:3

So, the measure of my success is not in the things I produce.

Jesus said,

“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
—Luke 12:15

But rather, the measure of my success is in the fruit I produce, life being passed along to others.

And to be clear, Christ is the vine. I am just a branch and can do nothing without Him.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
—John 15:4

So, when I’m asked “What do you do?”, I will respond with the answer to the better question, “How are you passing on life?”

And, my answer will be a description of however Jesus is producing beautiful life in me in that season, and how I’m sharing it.

I’m doing it now.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
—John 15:7‭-‬8

When The Flower Passes

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - When The Flower Passes

I constantly struggle, especially as I age and face the certainty of death, with the feeling that what I am doing isn’t big enough, isn’t grand enough and that I’m a failure.

Perhaps that’s another way of saying that I’m seeking approval or recognition.

Honestly, I’m not sure, but it is a lie that’s blocking love and needs to be purged. This is why I must continually expose my heart to the Word of God to search such things out.

When I brought this to God, this is what the Spirit gave me.

A meditation, a poem:

When The Flower Passes.

A flower,
stretched toward heaven,
taking in the Son,
passing Him on,
so others would live,
pleases God,
and that is enough.

Repentance Is Lifting Your Eyes To Love

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Repentance Is Lifting Your Eyes To Love

Hating yourself can feel like the proper punishment for the wrong you’ve done, the people you hurt and not being who you think you ought to be, but it’s not the way.

It only causes more harm.

The only helpful response to error and harm is repentance:

1. Awareness of God’s standard (Love),

2. Agree that I fall short of God’s standard,

3. Apologize for the offense to God and the injured caused by missing God’s standard,

4. Acknowledge my need for God’s help to meet the standard,

5. Ask God for His help meet to the standard,

6. Accept God’s help — His manifold grace through the instruction, wisdom, guidance and strength He supplies to atone with others and to align you to His standard so that you approach the matter appropriately moving forward.

7. Appreciate the forgiveness Jesus bought with His blood and the amazing power He offers, the same power that raised Him from the dead He makes available to you to give you new life now, with a new sprit –new and healthy desires, a new disposition and a new outlook.

Self hatred and self loathing is just more selfishness and a twisted attempt at self-righteousness which achieves nothing: no reconciliation, no healing, no improvement, just more anger, bitterness and regret.

When we continually abuse ourselves rather than accept the forgiveness Christ affords us, though we think we abase ourselves, it is an egregious act of pride.

When we reject His grace, we put ourselves above God, we take His seat as judge and instruct Him on how He should have handled our case. We mock God’s perfect solution for justice, we belittle the sacrifice of Christ and assert that His blood isn’t good enough!

Instead, humble yourself. Repent. Turn your attention from self to the Savior. Lift your eyes to Jesus Christ and find all the help you need to meet the standard to be better, to do better, to reconcile, to heal, to be transformed –to love that does no harm.

Repentance is lifting your eyes to Love.

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

The Myth Of Black Exceptionalism

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com The Myth Of Black Exceptionalism

A major downfall of my community is our participation in the myth of black exceptionalism.

The notion fed by a pitiful desire for proximity to whiteness that suggests those blacks who have somehow made it to the table (irrespective of how dubious the means) are somehow “different” than other blacks, a “credit to my race” -exceptional, but as evidenced by the limits imposed on our influence while at the table, still inferior.

I, however, am not exceptional in any way. I am what happens with a semi-stable, home-owning, two parent family and very modest resources.

I went to an elementary school in Atlanta, Georgia, that exposed me to a second language, German, in the second and third grade.

My parents could afford to supplement my education with activities such as piano lessons.

I was afforded opportunities in a well funded Jackson Public School District who could recruit exceptional teachers and offer programs such as Bailey Magnet School and the Jackson Academic and Performing Arts Complex.

I had opportunity through APAC to participate and compete in the visual arts and classical voice (what some think of as Opera, but its a little different).

I had opportunity at my high school, Bailey Magnet, to participate in string orchestra (violin), debate, forensics, student government, etc. etc.

See, I am not exceptional, I am an average person that is a confluence of those investments. People, by in large, are products of our investments. So, if we want different outcomes, we must make different investments.

What’s most needed in the black community, in my opinion, is not welfare but wealth.

The outcomes we find undesirable; crime, teenage pregnancy, and other ills of poverty are not because my people are deficient or broken, it is because of a broken system that artificially constricts the flow of resources to protect the advantage of some by starving the investments in others that are necessary to produce the outcomes we claim we want.

One of the most poignant examples of this “artificial constriction” was made during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, where the FEDERAL Housing Administration (not some backwater town in the deep South, mind you, but the federal government) adopted a documented policy to extend credit to whites, irrespective of their credit worthiness (they were essentially begged to take the loans) while creating racially restrictive conditions, where blacks were not only excluded from the loan program but were barred from even renting homes subsidized by FHA loans. It is to this day, one of the most significant contributors to the wealth gap. Many whites who were languishing in poverty as a result of the Great Depression, were lifted out by one of the largest government interventions (welfare program, if you like) in U.S. history -being given an appreciable asset, homes, while blacks were pushed further to the margins.

Beginning to address the problems we face today will require interventions on the scale of those that contributed to them. As much as it was true for whites during the depression, it is true for blacks today: the path out of poverty begins with possessing an asset that reliably appreciates in value. And, education ain’t it. It’s what we’ve been peddled -straddling us with enormous debt and very often useless parchment. But, in my opinion, that’s putting the cart before the horse. Education is important, but generally education should be profitable. It’s not alchemy. Education cannot create something out of nothing. At a societal level, education is a means of growing production and profit. What good is knowing without the wherewithal to do? What good is know how when we have no where to apply it? Therefore, education follows wealth.

Everything I do is driven by a God given love of my community as a whole and a desire for all of it to thrive. Blacks are a part of that community and we’ve got a tourniquet constricting the flow of vital resources throughout the body. So my efforts to eliminate these restrictions are not merely to benefit blacks but for the well being of us all. So, you want to stop kids from breaking in your truck? You want to deal with the issue of crime sustainably? It’s not more prisons. We’ve tried that. Making the long-term, positive investments for the outcomes we want is where we start.

So blacks, especially, who have achieved some affluency must stop perpetuating this lie that we’re special and that other blacks are in their predicament because they lack some innate quality that we, who have “made it”, have. We’re harming ourselves by deflecting from the real conversation to be had – how we’re going to accomplish wealth at scale. When the conversation drifts to a symptom, we must bring it back to the system.

I love you.

Originally posted on Facebook on February 14, 2021.

Black History: We Are Not Victims

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Black History: We Are Not Victims

I reject constant depictions of black history that mischaracterizes us as perpetual victims.

Despite the popular, whitewashed depiction of our people, we are not victims but combatants.

We are and always have been active participants in the fight to live free, with dignity as a people, to control our own destiny, to both contribute to and benefit from the progress of every place our diaspora dwells.

Victims wait for justice from another.

Combatants seize it.

We employ strategy, take ownership of our losses and regroup to win the next battle.

Don’t be deceived, we’ve been fighting from the beginning. Our remarkable progress was not given but blood bought.

And, we will continue to fight until every chain is broken.

This is #blackhistory.

Ugly House, Beautiful Home

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Brainflurry - Paul Luckett, Melissa Luckett with Denice and Nola at Disney on Ice

I hate my teeth.

They’ve always been a source of shame, embarrassment and have caused me to hide in some way or another nearly all of my life. Of course, there’s a lot more to my hiding than my teeth -namely that I had never quite felt good enough. And at the heart of that are some daddy issues mingled with church hurt that occurred during my formative years, but that’s another story for another time. Suffice it to say, I grew up with the misconception that you had to be perfect; attractive, flawless, never making a mistake -to be embraced, accepted and safe.

For a long time, I felt deeply unsafe.

I sought safety in a number of things that could not offer it; popularity, money and sex, only to find that it left me more insecure than before. Fast forward to my meeting Jesus in the BSU office of Dr. Gregory Jones and the overwhelming love I encountered at my absolute lowest point changed my life forever. Since that time, as I’ve walked with Jesus, He has been continually healing me, through His Word, from the lies that long tortured my soul and that have caused so much pain in and through my life. A major deliverance from feelings of inadequacies was my being given Christ-esteem: the notion that as a born again believer, my life including my identity is now in Christ. I am defined by what Christ has done and is doing in me rather than a temporary condition (like failure or achievement) while I’m in process of being conformed to His image (Colossians 3). This was a watershed moment in my life and one that has been deeply helpful. #christesteem

Another was given to me a few weeks ago: home.

As I wrestled with my appearance in the mirror, feeling unattractive (and therefore unsafe), I was reminded of times that I was safe – times that I was at home. I remembered that I have been blessed to have many homes; my mother, my grandfather’s house, Dr. Gregory Jones and his home, Greater Ebenezer M.B. Church, and the home of Willie and Mary Harris. It was this remembrance that actually inspired my expression of gratefulness for Mary Jean Harris.

Melissa and I have been blessed to travel a little and see some marvelous things. The Spirit brought to mind the mansions, grand buildings and lush hotels -some where we’ve even had opportunity to stay. Then He brought to mind the home of Willie and Mary Harris. And, it became plain to me. Of all the wonderful places I’ve seen and been, on any given day I would much rather be at the home of Willie and Mary Harris. Even though the outward appearance of the building could be considered shanty in comparison, when you were there, you were at home.

When I am at home somewhere, it’s the sense of being safe: loved, wanted and enjoyed that matters. Its outward appearance is of little concern. So, rather than focus on my on physical imperfections –the (natural) outward man that is perishing, it is better to focus on the (spiritual) inward man that is being perfected day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). The truth is, I am safe in Christ (Luke 18:28-30, John 14:3, Romans 8:35-39) and the best way to experience that safety is to be that for others. Also, in the context of those we’ve lost, being to others what they’ve been to us, is a way of always having them.

The Holy Spirit’s message to me: be a home for others.

In one place it is written, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) And with this latest revelation, I have a new and different appreciation for Mark 8:34-46 “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” It often amazes me how the things that make for our peace are so often counterintuitive.

In those moments where my attention is being drawn to my shortcomings in the flesh and I am again made to feel unsafe, rather than focus on me and what I can do to make myself feel better, I will instead remember the wonderful homes that so many have been for me, where people are safe: loved, wanted and enjoyed, and I will focus on being that for others.

In so doing, it puts me squarely in the fortress of God’s love and allows Him to use me to share a beautiful, glorious, everlasting home with others. #spirithome

Consider The Lilies Of The Field

Brainflurry.com | Lilies Of The Field

Worry is more than a momentary thought about an issue of concern.

Worry is an emotional state that is a response to a perceived existential threat.

We typically do not worry about our car breaking down. What we do worry about is how the car breaking down may affect our ability to get to work, to earn a livelihood so that we can secure food, clothing or shelter. So in this example, the real worry is not about the car but the underlying perceived threat to our physical well-being.

There are a number of aspects to our well-being besides physical, such as emotional and social. As such, there are a seemingly limitless combination of things we can worry about. But, whatever aspect of our well-being is giving rise to unrest and anxiety in our lives, Jesus has a prescription.

I, for one, have been wrestling with my sense of self worth. We live under a constant barrage of messages that aim to assess and ascribe our value. The use of terms such as “net worth” and the practice of placing value on human lives based on how much stuff they’ve been able to amass or how many people the are able to control is the cornerstone of our culture. I therefore find myself assessing my own value based on such trivial things as how much money I make, how may followers I have or how much engagement I have on a social media post.

Sure it would feel good to shed ourselves of these measures of value, but we live in the real word and value is a real thing, so can something have worth if others do not value it?

Absolutely. We know that even apart from the wisdom of scripture. How many songs do we have about things and people we didn’t appreciate until they’re gone?

But, Jesus reveals a higher truth. He says, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…” (Matthew 6:28). God’s creation blooms and blossoms, they give their fruit in season without the slightest care about your acknowledgment or approval.

Now imagine how duplicitous a thing would be if its characteristics were to change based on who’s watching or how many approve. What if that thing were basing its actions on how much applause it would get? This is the way of the world and is fertile soil for double-mindedness and hypocrisy.

As for the lilies of the field -God’s creation, it matters not whether you appreciate them or enjoy their fruit. It simply does what it is in obedience to its creator.

Therefore, my prayer is,

Lord, help me to be like the lilies of Your field, a tree in Your garden, a branch of Your Vine -Your creation. Help me to bear fruit according to the incorruptible seed, the image of Your Son -the implanted Word. Help me to do the good I was created to do regardless if anyone notices.

Jesus concluded His exhortation about how we should handle worry with an affirmation: if God shows such care for the grass of the field and the birds of the air, what does that mean about you? You are beautiful, even more so than a lily arrayed finer than the richest man in the world. You are valuable, even more so than many birds.  You are of great value to God. (Luke 12:7)

The key to overcoming worry and securing our peace is opting out of the world’s value system and taking up God’s (seeking His approach and government i.e. ‘the kingdom of God’ Matthew 6:33). Rather than “net worth”, Jesus must be the chief cornerstone in our lives upon which all value and truth are built.

The truth is: you and I are valuable whether anyone sees us or not. In fact, you are most you when you believe no one sees. So, I say to my soul and yours: Whether seen or unseen let us be what God created: blessings; loving caretakers of creation and our fellow man (Ephesians 2:10). Our life and value in Christ are secure. There is no need to worry.