52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #6 – A Mentor’s Model

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #6 – A Mentor's Model

“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”
—Hebrews 13:7

In Week 6 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness I give thanks to God for a mentor’s model.

A few days ago we had tacos and pound cake. It was the favorite foods of Josh Liddell, the son of Pearson and Pepper Liddell who they lost tragically.

It’s a sort of communion shared among people from all over the world in loving memory of him.

I remember at his funeral, during the family’s procession, my mentor Pearson Liddell, thrust his hands toward heaven and with a shout that was as much a heart-wrenching grief-stricken cry, yelled, “Hallelujah! I praise Your name Lord!”

That broke something in me.

It broke, if just for a moment, my preoccupation with this world that is passing away and shifted it toward what is and will be forever: eternal life through Christ with God and each other.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
—John 17:20-21

It shifted my focus to such powerful Life that it subdues even death, reducing it to “just sleeping” so that when we die, we await our rising with all those who have fallen asleep to a New Day that never ends where we’ll never be afraid again.

“These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.'”
—John 11:11

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”
—1 Thessalonians 4:13

But, eternal life, as my mentor demonstrated, is not just something we look forward to for later. It’s something we have right now.

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
—1 John 5:12-13

Christ gives us inextinguishable Life now.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'”
—John 11:25-26

This Life could not be suppressed or snuffed out even by the unbelievable pressure of an ocean of grief. In the midst of all they were going through, eternal life erupted and burst through to praise.

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed– always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
—2 Corinthians 4:8-10

My mentors showed me what this means.

They made eternal Life real to me.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #5 – Nickels

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #5 – Nickels

In Week 5 of 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness, I give thanks to God for nickels.

I was around 6 years old when my dad was a student at Gammon Theological Seminary, and on this particular day I am on campus with him at the library.

I mimic my father. As he studied and wrote, I sat quietly and drew.

He then reached in his denim pocket and handed me fifty cents or so in nickels. They were for the copy machine. Copies were 5 cents a copy.

Once my masterpiece was complete, I’d walk intently (with excitement) to the copier, careful not to run. I’d stand in line to copy my work just like the grown-ups.

I don’t remember a single word being spoken but remember the feeling of having everything that I wanted or needed.

In that moment there was no where else I’d rather be.

I was just happy to be with my dad.

I’m so glad I had this moment with my father. It’s a beautiful memory that makes me smile to this day.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #4 – Plenty

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #4 – Plenty

In Week 4 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for plenty.

I have been able to eat what I want and as much as I want for as long as I can remember.

“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
—1 Tim 6:8

I have this and enough to share.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #2 – Jay Hurdle

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #2 – Jay Hurdle

In week 2 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks to God for Jay Hurdle.

A young man with a prior felony has been working diligently to put his past behind him.

He’s holding down a job. His supervisor praised him as one of the best on staff. He’s taking care of his ailing mother. He’s showing up for his kids. He’s going straight from work to home.

He’s keeping his nose clean.

Then one day he decides to give someone he knows from around the way a ride, and they’re stopped by the police.

He has a felony, his rider has a felony, but what the young man doesn’t know is, the rider has a gun.

The rider throws the gun in the car and flees.

The rider escapes. The young man doesn’t.

Now he’s facing 10 years for a poor decision made in a split second about something as trivial as a passenger.

You’d think his efforts to improve his situation would be taken into consideration, but that’s not how the machine works, especially for certain categories of prior offenses and for certain people. All the system sees is your prior. It was without compassion.

But, Jay Hurdle was compassionate.

The young man was without direction, the public defender seemed indifferent, overwhelmed by his case load, and the young man couldn’t really afford to pay for his own defense.

Of all the lawyers we reached out to, Jay Hurdle was the only one to return the call.

Not only that, he arranged to meet with the young man, freely sharing hours of precious billable time to a complete stranger from whom he had no hope of recouping it.

The young man was terrified and Jay Hurdle gave of his time and expertise to help him gain some sense of direction.

I don’t know Jay Hurdle well, but I know the effect he’s had on our community very well.

Of the community service organizations and non-profits I’ve worked with, I was constantly brushing up against his work, very often him having donated it.

It seems that whenever I hear about something good happening in our community, I hear his and his wife, Cate Van Halsema’s name.

They are remarkably human and have given themselves to the betterment of our community, including in that people who others would omit.

I share this experience with Jay Hurdle because probably no one else in the world knows he did it.

And, if he did this, how much more?

I didn’t know Jay Hurdle well, but I know this is who he is: a neighbor the kind that Jesus spoke of.

I was grieved to hear of his passing.

There’s a Celebration of Jay Hurdle’s Life happening at the upstairs of Restaurant Tyler at 5:30 PM today.

If you’ve felt the effect of his life, I encourage you to carry it and pass it along, especially to Cate Van Halsema and his loved ones during this incredibly difficult season.

He is a man #duehonor.

He made our community better.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #19 – The Victory That Christ Provides

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #19 – The Victory That Christ Provides

I was overwhelmed.
I found strength in the presence of Christ’s people who were gathered in His name.

So, in Week 19 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for the victory that Christ provides.

I’ll repeat this nugget from Alan Hawkins again:

“Victory is in the Lord’s communion.”

When faced with challenges, sometimes all we need is to get in formation -we need to run to the Lord’s communion, that is, the fellowship with others in Christ, especially over a meal.

Sometimes, we don’t even have to share our problems or solve that of others.

There’s a transmission happening just being in the midst of Christ’s people who are being attentive to His Spirit.

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”
—2 Corinthians 2:14

But the greater the intimacy, the greater the power.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
— Matthew 18:20

So, there’s even more strength to be had if we do share our problems with those we discern love God, love us and have His Spirit.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
— James 5:16

Are you a believer that’s struggling? Burdened? Overwhelmed?

“Victory is in the Lord’s communion.”

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #15 – Hanging Out With Our Boys

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #15 – Hanging Out With Our Boys
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #15 – Hanging Out With Our Boys

In Week 15 of 52 Weeks of gratefulness I give thanks for hanging out with our boys.

Mom’s out of town.

She’s the fun one, always coming up with fun things to do.

I’m not great at that.

I don’t think in terms of, “Oh, that would be fun to do.”

I think in terms of accomplishing things, “It would be cool if X existed, to accomplish Y or if the boys were exposed to Z”.

So, I plan “fun”.

I know. Horrible.

So, I Google “fun things to do with young adults” and break out a spreadsheets to sort possible activities by distance and time required.

True story.

As I discuss the possibilities with our boys: hiking, miniature golf, fishing with Granddad, etc., Chris said, “I don’t care what we do. As long as I’m with y’all.”

(How did pepper get in my eyes?!)

They then conclude together, almost simultaneously, “Let’s get on Minecraft! We haven’t played with you in forever, Dad.”

And, for three hours that’s what we do.

My eldest son, Chris, takes note of the spawning point as I figure out how to get logged in, remarking, “I’ll help Dad get to the camp” because we’re playing survival and he knows I’m horrible at the game.

We talk. Challenges we face in the game spur a host of conversations about all sorts of things like ambitions, experiences, ideas and attitudes about life.

We laugh as we each die in the most ridiculous ways, mostly me (e.g. “brainflurry dies attempting to swim in lava.”)

Afterward, my youngest son, Roman, says, “I made an awesome soup the other day, can I make you some Dad?” and then proceeds to cook for us.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

And, I didn’t plan any of it.

Awesome things happen around awesome people, when you let it.

My kids are awesome. My wife is awesome.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #14 – A Special Day

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #14 – A Special Day
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #14 – A Special Day
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #14 – A Special Day
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #14 – A Special Day

In Week 14 of 52 Weeks of gratefulness I give thanks for a day.

On this particular day I start my day at 6:30 AM at a bible study being held in the equipment bay of a local construction company. I’m there because I was invited by a brother that I had met at a men’s lunch held at New Horizons because I was invited by another brother who I met because… and it goes on and on.

Then, at 7:45 AM I join a men’s prayer group for our schools that I became a part of because a brother that I met at… I’m sure you’re detecting a pattern.

I could go on and on about the various functions I’ve participated in with these men. I’ve done bible studies with these men. I’ve preached with these men. I’ve volunteered, worked, sweated and bled beside these men. But, today hit me differently.

Earlier this morning, Good Friday, April 07, 2023, I participated in an event called the Stations of The Cross, jointly observed by Catholics, Protestants and people of every denominational stripes where we walked through town carrying a cross to symbolize the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrow.

The weather was perfect for it, overcast, gloomy and raining.

It concluded powerfully with these closing words,

“Lord Jesus Christ, your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites earth and heaven and reconciles all people to you. May we who have faithfully reflected on these mysteries follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Then we sat quietly solemn, the cross in the backdrop, the silence only broken by the ongoing but irregular sound of heavy rain drops upon the earth and on our heads -like tears from heaven.

Then this afternoon, I attended the Seven Last Sayings of Jesus at Mt. Peiler Missionary Baptist Church. There were congregants from different churches all across our city, as pastors and ministers from these varying fellowships expounded on the last words our Savior uttered while on the cross.

Many of these preachers were brought together because of the events and initiatives that I mentioned earlier. We sang together. We worshipped together. And, because of these men, people from their different churches were brought together too.

My point is this: what started as simply coming together for a meal or for prayer for our schools has resulted in us increasing our presence in each others lives.

God is doing something.

And, we’re just getting started.

My heart burns.

So, I’m thankful for a day that made all that possible. That day was the cross.

“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:19–20.

I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #13 – Carrie Franks

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #13 – Carrie Franks

In week 13 of 52 weeks of gratefulness I give thanks for Carrie Johnson Franks.

“Paul, I think my computer has a virus,” Carrie says.

Then she whispers, “There’s pictures popping up of naked Asian men.”

“That’s very specific,” I joke. “Is there something we need to talk about?”

“Well…” she teases, “You caught me. Asian men are kinda my thing. And, peanut butter.”

We shared a good hearty laugh.

Carrie made work delightful.

Though I worked as an independent contractor, she made me feel like I was fellow colleague in the company, another member of the team.

And, she was thoughtful.

During the recent storm that wreaked havoc across the state, she thought to go into the office that weekend to check on things, and she sent me a heads up about items that may need my attention so that, to use her words, “I wouldn’t feel bombarded that Monday morning”.

That’s just the kind of person she was.

At every business I support, there’s the local techie, the first person other employees turn to for help and the person I can trust to help perform tasks on servers or network equipment to quickly bring something back online. I refer to them as my local I.T. pros.

Carrie was my local I.T. pro.

Each time she’d help me with something, I’d promise to send her some Asian men and peanut butter.

Carrie was my local I.T. pro.

But, because of her kindness, Carrie was more than helping hands at the office.

She was a friend.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #12 – Enjoying A Meal

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #10 – Beauty In Mississippi

In week 12 of 52 weeks of gratefulness I give thanks for a meal.

It was nothing earth shattering or particularly special.

It was just a meal –fast food, at that.

But a little more than a decade ago, I suffered a devastating financial disaster.

Since then, I’ve been moving and navigating life like a bear is chasing me -running, evading on my worst days and rushing anxiously on my best.

Life was a scramble. I was always moving quickly to get to the next thing.

I remember one of the lowest days of my life was when I was picking up my dearly beloved son from elementary school. He was moving at a casual, carefree pace and I yelled, yes yelled unlovingly and angrily, “Would you come on here?!”

I’m so sorry.

I hadn’t really been living, not enjoying anything, rather just trying to survive.

I didn’t even enjoy food. I ate without really tasting it. All I wanted to do was get energy and end the hunger.

But on this particular day, I felt free to put the demands of the world aside and enjoyed my meal in contemplative silence.

No phone. No laptop. No work. No ministry.

Just me, a plastic fork and food on a paper plate.

I took time to register the textures, the flavors, the smell.

I ate it slowly, enjoying every morsel and thanking God for every bite.

I say it wasn’t earth shattering but, maybe it was.

Whatever it was, I enjoyed it.

I’m thankful.

#52WoG

A Heart That’s Hard To Sink

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - A Heart That's Hard To Sink

It’s hard to sink a heart filled with thankfulness.

But, it’s impossible to sink one that’s thankful to God (Philippians 4:8-9).

Thankfulness lifts and causes the heart to dwell on the object of our thanks, that is, what we’re thankful for or who we’re thankful to.

There is no higher, purer or more secure place for our hearts to dwell than with God.

When God has my heart, nothing can pull it down from there. Nothing can take it out of His hand (Romans 8:35).

So, for whatever I am thankful, I acknowledge God as the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:16-17), and I will give thanks to the Lord, that I might dwell in the secret place of the Most High (Psalm 27:5, 91:1).

Everything God commands us is for good (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Be thankful, to Him.