In Week 17 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for her shoes beside mine.
Where we are and what we have doesn’t mean near as much to me as having Melissa Luckett beside me.
This picture makes me happy. I’m grateful. #52WoG
For weeks, I’ve intended to:
visit a loved one,
sit with a dear brother,
put in quality family time,
write that note,
make that call,
share that word.
Why haven’t I?
Because I’m occupied with what I have to do to make the money to keep what I’ve got.
And, I’m preoccupied with what I have to do to get more.
“what I have to do…”
I’ve been in bondage.
The world says I can attain the good life if I somehow manage to get the right combination of things. But, Jesus teaches that the things that make for my peace are in knowing the Father and following Him, forsaking all else.
I know the truth, but at some point I again embraced the lie.
This deception offered me fool’s gold, robbing me of what matters most: precious time loving people who are dear to me and dear to God, in exchange for the worthless: a nirvana I might experience some day if I manage to get and do all the right things. (Spoiler alert: It’s a lie. Fulfillment never happens this way.)
Working for more stuff and living more life are in opposite directions. And, I’ve been going the wrong way!
My focus should not be on how to keep what I have or how to get more. My heart should be set upon attending to my Father’s house rather than seeking my own interests and pleasure. When I have the same heart as the Father (as demonstrated by Jesus, His only begotten Son), then my pleasure comes from seeing His house provided for and prospering.
So, I pray “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with in me!”.
I’m on a journey now
to lay aside that which ensares me,
to divest myself of what weighs me down,
to sell what I have to share with those who lack,
to live with less so I have more to give:
to follow Jesus.
In Week 10 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for the legacy of Willie Lee Harris.
His cancer is terminal.
We can see his body weakening. On this particular day, Mr. Harris seems to be doing remarkably well. Where he had been confined mostly to a chair or his bed, he’s walking around, talking, doing stuff. The reason for all this activity is that he wants to make the house more secure. His sons and grandsons are there to help him check locks and install security bars on the windows.
This is the last thing Mr. Harris did before leaving this life: making his wife secure. Mr. Harris knew he was dying, but in the face of death he thought about protecting his wife.
What an awesome legacy. This is the stuff my extended family, my wife and consequently my children are made of. I’m grateful. #52WoG
P.S. This is the day the family traditionally celebrates the birthday of Mr. Willie Lee Harris, even though we learned some years ago, that according to his birth certificate, he was born on March 11. That’s a window into a whole other discussion about the black experience, government and historicity, but suffice it to say we’re glad this man was born and we honor his legacy, especially today.
In 6 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for lessons from my father about work.
No one in the world works harder than my father, Rev. Paul Luckett. No one.
I remember when my Dad was a student in seminary, he was a full time student, paying his way through school as a custodian for our apartment building in Atlanta, Georgia, pastoring two churches and driving between school in Atlanta and the churches in Jackson, Mississippi every weekend.
I remember spending countless summer days with him and my little brother Nehemiah Luckett, cutting yards, painting houses, buffing floors, hanging shingles, etc.
My youngest brother James recently told my Dad, “Whew, you’re a hard worker, Daddy. That’s a good thing to be. But, don’t you think it’s time to go home now?”
With my Dad having such a strong work ethic, naturally he had lessons to pass along to us. Here are a few I hope to pay forward:
A want is something you work for. A gift is something you’re given.
No one is obliged to give you what you want –or anything for that matter.
If there’s something you want that you feel you’re owed, it’s no longer a gift but wages.
Wages require that you be hired. To be hired requires at least an informal contract that’s been expressed for work in exchange for wages.
Are you feeling like someone owes you something? Well, were you hired for the task that you think you’re owed for?
No one owes you for work you weren’t hired to do.
And, no one owes you for being a ‘good’ person. If your goodness is contingent on being compensated for it, you’re not a good person but a faker-for-hire.
Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. If anyone gives you anything, be grateful -you don’t get to place demands on a gift. If you have demands, if you want something, work as hard as it takes to get it. Wants aren’t owed but earned.
This is treasured wisdom from my father that is still ministering to me today. Thanks, Dad. I’m grateful. #52WoG
In 5 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for friends that make you better.
I was reading an application essay written by our youngest son and happened upon the following lines that warmed my heart:
“Being a novice [astrophysics] theorist myself, I took great interest in this problem. I regularly discuss the issue with my best friend who also researches topics in general relativity and special relativity.”
Our son Roman was referring to his long-time friend Sebastian Harvey, someone with whom he is free to be his authentic self and who also challenges him and encourages him to excel.
I remember them taking the ACT together and when Roman received his score he called his friend to share the news. It turns out they both scored higher than the 90th percentile and were only one point apart. All you could hear throughout the house was, “Let’s go!!” exclaiming their genuine excitement for each other.
This is the type of encouragement that makes you want to do better and to be better because you have someone in your corner that fully expects that you can. I am so glad our son has that in his life. I am deeply appreciative to Sebastian Harvey for providing it.
It reminded me of how blessed I’ve been to have had multiple friends in my life like that. I am also reminded of how worthwhile it is to be that for others. I’m grateful. #52WoG
The flight instructor stands at the hanger, wearing old-school Chucks, beige cargo pants, a beige safari style shirt and a beige bucket sun hat. He’s scribbling into a small notebook using one of the many pens lining his left breast pocket. He occasionally looks up, peering over black-rimmed 1960’s style glasses to coach aspiring pilots through the nuances of a pre-flight check, expertly interspersing amazing tales of aviation history, daring feats of flight and near death encounters he’s personally experienced during his long and storied career. He smiles with each recounting and you can see the joy in his eyes from having spent his life doing what he loved.
Dr. Bennett is in his 80’s now, still crawling under a sailplane to check for the signs of wear and material fatigue that a novice might miss. He’s literally a legend but you’d never know because he’s utterly unassuming and completely approachable. He spends his weekends, oftentimes in grueling heat, climbing into a cockpit to pass on his vast experience to anyone wise enough to learn from it.
The flight instruction is being offered by the MSU Soaring Club provided through Mississippi State University. We’ve brought our son Roman to one of their meetings after a chance and kind introduction to the club by Jamie Jones. We’re hoping that Roman can join the club and start taking flying lessons. But as we look around, there is no one else near his age or his size. At eleven years old, the parachute nearly swallows him and probably weighs as much he does!
Being the expert that he is, Dr. Bennett makes mention of the minimum weight needed to achieve the proper distribution in the glider. At this point, Dr. Bennett could have very legitimately said Roman was not quite old enough to participate and that would have been that. But, Dr. Bennett looks at Roman and asks him directly, “You want to fly, don’t you? How much do you weigh?” After receiving Roman’s weight, Dr. Bennett makes a calculation and proceeds to use lead bags (those that typically holds down a wing of the gliders while it is stowed in the hanger) to make up for the lack in weight. But then, we’re faced with a new problem -Roman’s legs aren’t long enough to reach the pedals. Again, Dr. Bennett makes every accommodation so Roman can fly, telling him, “For now, we’ll focus on teaching you the stick controls and I’ll take care of everything else.”
From that moment almost five years ago, Dr. George, as we affectionally refer to him now, has not stopped pouring into Roman. He uses every break, every free moment between flights to share another lesson to prepare Roman for the next stage of his development as an aviator. It is quite something to behold how this man’s love of flying extends beyond the subject to his students. And, he does it all so effortlessly.
I’m not interested in aviation beyond supporting our son’s interest in it, but the apparent love around what Dr. George does has a draw to it. It makes me want to be around him, regardless of what he’s talking about. He’s teaching my son to fly but his example is teaching me a valuable lesson too. I’m grateful. #52WoG
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Yesterday, I shared with you that God has given each of us gifts and a heart for a specific good work.
We are most satisfied and fulfilled when we’re doing what we’re made to do.
There are so many voices about who we should be and what we should do that it can get confusing. But, if I want to know what something is made for, it’s best to ask the one who made it.
Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”
The Word shows us the way we should go.
It’s a journey of discovery as we learn more about our Creator and explore doing things we believe that are good and pleasing to Him.
Here are some questions that have helped me along my journey of finding the things that I’m made to do (I’m still learning everyday):
What problem(s) do you see that you have a burden to solve? Or, what do you think should exist or there should be more of that you have a burden to help create?
Right now, I am investing time into learning to become a better coder so that I can earn more to help more people. One of the things I want to do is to help the marginalized and underserved leverage technology to meet their financial needs and then build wealth (thrive).
Give some thought to those questions and let us know if there are any things you believe you have a heart to do.
We’d love to support to you on your journey of finding the good work you’re made to do.
We love you!
What do you do when a place is dark where people can barely see, they’re stumbling over things, crashing into each other and getting hurt?
You add light.
We believe that God is the source of all light.
Our response to darkness in the world; to the problems we see, is to be light so those around us can find the Way.
The way we “be light” is to live and teach what we learn from God. The Way we learn from God is through God’s Son Jesus the Christ.
This is not just an idea. I wake up every day working by the grace of God to contribute light in some way to those around me, starting with each of you.
And, if you’re not actively being light or reflecting it, you are being something that blocks light -causing darkness.
God has given each of us gifts and a heart to address specific needs in our world, so there are many ways to be light.
Over the years by living in our home, you’ve either heard or experienced it in some way implicitly, but I want to state explicitly how our family seeks to be light.
What are we doing as a family?
Our family creates healthy places to nurture fruitful people, always starting with you.
We aim to promote “homes”; ecosystems of well-being by targeting specific areas (think our family, community, schools, etc.) and trying to cultivate as many people there to help and not harm those around them.
Why are we doing it?
Our family’s top priority is to promote Life and to help people thrive. Life is having a heart that results in a healthy relationship to everything around you; promoting life and not death. We believe that you get this life through believing Jesus. To thrive is to have well-being that overflows into others. That means having enough (spiritually, physically and materially) to meet your needs, enough to enjoy and enough to share.
Why am I telling you this?
So that you understand our motivation, why we get up every morning, why we make the decisions that we make, how our resources are allocated and why. And, so you can choose whether you want to participate at a level beyond compulsory obedience.
Our decision making calculus is simple: make the choice(s) that results in the most people having Life and thriving, always starting with those entrusted to our care (you).
The ultimate vision is the Great Home which is the church; a network of individual homes that work together and are committed to being healthy places where people can share Life and thrive. Through fellowship with people we’ve invested in and others who are like-minded, our goal is to spread light throughout the world.
In Week 35 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for Pearson and Pepper Liddell.
“Melissa and I are calling to see what divorce lawyers you would recommend. We want to end this as quickly and amicably as possible.”
This picture was taken less than 24 hours after that call.
The call was made to Pearson and Pepper Liddell, a couple who hosted a Christian marriage ministry that Melissa and I had been a part of for the last five years. During their ministry, they urged each couple to commit to a pact: to take divorce off the table. I was always reluctant to do so because I had a line in the sand. There were things I felt I deserved. There were certain things I wasn’t going to tolerate. There was only so much I was going to endure. I was only willing to go so far.
“Can you meet with us?”, they replied. Early the next morning they drove 4 hours from Georgia to meet with Melissa and I in a location they prepared at New Horizon’s Church in Starkville, Mississippi.
They labored with us in prayer and in the Word for almost 8 hours. It took that long, mostly because I’m pretty familiar with the Bible and was craftily twisting scripture to justify my position. Pearson was definitely no novice, but most importantly, while I was in the flesh, he was in the Spirit and said to me, “The problem with your logic and interpretation of scripture is that it’s built on the basis of what you want. But what does God want?”
Grasping at this point, I retort, “He wants my peace -1 Corinthians 7:15.”
Pearson and Pepper jointly replied, “Does God want that more than He wants to redeem and sanctify your wife and children through the ark of His holy institution? More than He want’s to make Himself known through your ministry to your wife as Christ’s to the church? If peace is primary, what about Jesus’ peace, that of His only begotten Son?”
Check and mate.
The fact that was indisputable is Christ’s purpose from before creation is redemptive. He came to seek and save that which was lost -Luke 19:10. That is what God wants. This is the ministry that Jesus took upon Himself and He was obedient to death, even the humiliating death of the cross -Philippians 2:8. From the beginning, God instituted marriage to point to Christ with His redemptive purpose in view.
I had been led astray by a focus on my own selfish purposes and desires. Pearson and Pepper were the shepherds that led us to repentance and back to the heart of the Father.
They reminded me that marriage is not mine for my pleasure and purposes. Marriage is God’s, made for His purpose and I am humbly just a minister in it. Marriage is a great and wonderful mystery and, as with most things, when done His way results in outcomes that far exceed anything I could even hope to achieve.
You can’t tell at first glance, but if you look closely at the picture, you can see the tint of red in all of our eyes from crying. This is what has characterized our walk with the Liddell’s. They don’t play church. We deal with real life. They are transparent about their own struggles and are therefore able to help us with ours. We confess our sins to one another and are healed together. God’s grace toward us through the Liddell’s has tremendously blessed us, our children and people we didn’t even know that God was using our marriage to reach.
I have since taken divorce off the table, for any reason, come what may. Christ gave it all so that we may have the true riches and pleasure of being one together with God in Him. The Liddell’s through word and deed have demonstrated that, when done right, marriage is a model of that.
I’m grateful. #52WoG
Originally posted to Facebook on August 27, 2021.
In Week 34 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for my mother, Rosemary Luckett.
The place was remarkably clean as I remember.
It’s my Dad’s first year at ITC Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and we’ve not long moved into the apartment. My brother’s a baby and I’m between first and second grade.
Sterile seems a more accurate description. The walls were stark white. The ceiling is white. The floor is white and black speckled laminate. The only thing breaking up the monotony of the space was a thick, dark grey rubber border running along the bottom of the walls. In the living room, there’s a large window that spanned the height of the wall, sitting just above a motel style air conditioner.
It’s quiet, too. It’s Saturday morning. At our old house, the neighborhood would already be bustling with the sound of lawn mowers and playing kids. But here, it’s dead quiet, aside from the muffled sound of city traffic due to being some way off in the distance. I’m looking out the living room window onto the spacious, grassy courtyard dotted with large trees and thinking perhaps I’ll play out there.
And then, it started as the sound of gentle arrhythmic taps against metal -like salt being slowly sprinkled on aluminum foil. It was the first droplets of rain hitting the coils of the air condition unit. The window began to collect a few drops making a circuitous path toward the sill. Then, what began as a sprinkle became a thunderous shower and sheets of rain are now streaming down the window.
There was suddenly static, like a TV without a clear channel. And then the sound alternated between music, then voices and music again, each electronically garbled between transitions. My mother had gone and gotten the radio and brought it to the front room. She was turning a large silver knob, searching for the right station. When she found one playing a song, she bent forward toward me with her arms stretched out and hands open, motioning for me to dance.
She took me by the hands twisting, jumping and skipping about as we danced to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and the music of that day. My brother was on the couch in his diaper and she’d occasionally scoop him up so he could dance with us too. A dreary, lonely day was suddenly filled with light. All I remember was the brightness of her countenance and the fullness of her smile as her full, black untamed hair bounced exuberantly upon her shoulders. This is my mother; my wonderful, beautiful, incomparable mother. It is a moment that perfectly encapsulated her as a person. Over and over throughout my life, she took a cold, empty husk of an existence and filled it with joy, hope and love.
I don’t remember the music ending. I hope it never does. If I could relive that moment for eternity, that would be heaven.
I thank God continually for you, Mom. I love you.
I’m grateful. #52WoG
Originally posted to Facebook on August 21, 2021.