What’s In Your Hand?

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - What's In Your Hand? Questions That Help Me Refocus And Move Forward

“So the LORD said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A rod.'”
— Exodus 4:2

“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.

But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.'”
— Exodus 14:15-16

I often lose focus looking at what’s happening around me.

As of late, I’ve felt inadequate, out of place and unwelcomed.

The Holy Spirit has given me these questions to recalibrate:

What’s in my hand? (What do I have that I can use?)

And, how can I use it to glorify God? (Exodus 4:2, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17)

To benefit the Body? (Romans 12:5-6, Ephesians 4:11-13, Galatians 6:10)

Or, to reconcile creation? (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)

These questions in this order help me to re-center my focus and to get back to being what God created me to be:

Fruitful.

Before the problem existed, God provided everything I would need to move forward…

to His victory.

“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue”,
— 2 Peter 1:3

“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.

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
— 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

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 #3 – A Son And An Eternal Brother

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Week 3 of 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness - A Son and Eternal Brother

In week 3 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks to God for a son and an eternal brother.

Marriage by the law gained me someone as dear as a son to me, my nephew, Devin Mabry, the son of my sister-in-law Gloria Harris.

Marriage to Christ by faith through the covenant of His blood has gained me a beloved and eternal brother, because Devin is now the son of God, the Father of our Lord and elder brother Jesus Christ.

He was just baptized.

Another brother, Jimmy Gant, said during a gathering, that the only thing you can take from this life to heaven is your loved ones.

I cannot express the deep gladness I have in knowing I will have someone so dear to me as Devin Mabry in this life and in the one to come.

Such joy is in my heart, pressed down, shaken together and running over.

Welcome, brother Devin.

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 #1 – A Son’s Heart

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #1 – A Son's Heart

In Week 1 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for a Son’s Heart.

Someone was in need, having lost their home’s much used washer and dryer in the same day.

They were hours away, a new washer and dryer set would have to be picked up, the old ones would have to be removed and the new installed. It would be a challenging job for just one person.

As my wife and I were working through how to help, my son Chris volunteers, “Dad, I’ll go.”

He gives up an entire Saturday that are typically cherished and fiercely protected by college students to help someone else.

I can scarcely think of a moment where I was more proud.

My prayer and greatest hope is that I could ever make God feel the way my son made me feel that day.

I’m proud of you, Chris.

I love you.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #21 – A Quiz (About Fasting)

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #21 - A Quiz (About Fasting)

In week 21 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for a quiz.

I was at Rosey Baby’s for lunch and as I was leaving I passed a table where Monica Banks was having lunch with a colleague.

She was aware that I had recently accepted my call to the ministry and she motioned for me to come to her table.

Now Mrs. Banks was constantly investing in people, looking to develop leaders in the community and trying to help them get to the next level.

She asked me a question, “What does it mean to fast?”

She was quizzing me, because, being a seasoned woman of faith and also a minister, she knew the answer better than I did.

I gave her an answer that may have been technically correct but I could sense from my delivery and from her response that it was from my head but not from my heart. It was something I thought, not something I knew.

She responded, “Thank you, Reverend. Hug Melissa and those babies for me.”

That was almost two decades ago, and since that moment I’ve been pondering her question in my heart.

Providential factors: life, seeking, surviving a crisis of faith, and reading the following passage at just the right time brought her question full circle.

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”
—Deuteronomy 8:2-3

All that God does is to make Himself known. There is not only no higher good, there is no good beside that.

It is during a fast where the cloak of our sufficiency is removed and we are confronted with the depth of our earthly dependencies to the point of idolatry. We are confronted with our reaction to withdrawal from them and the true condition of our heart from which our reactions spring.

God’s objective toward us is to perfect us so that He can shine through us, like He does through Jesus, His only begotten Son.

**We can either do it with Him** and cooperate by willingly putting things down and exercise ourselves to godliness through disciplines such as fasting, **or it can happen to us** through a “forced fast” like the one experienced in this passage by the Children of Israel as they are tried and trained in the wilderness.

Either way, we’re going to be made to learn, if we’re His. And, it’s for our good.

“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”
—Hebrews 12:7-8

We can either seek out opportunities to confront those things that get between us and God, that block His love to and through us, or find ourselves thrust into situations that cause us to confront them, or both.

He desires to make us stronger, to conform us to the image of Christ, until like Jesus we are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

It is a work that He will complete without fail.

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”
—Philippians 1:6

God wants to grow us to the point where, when the enemy attacks us at our weakest point, tempting us, our Strength is so overwhelming we can respond, “Man shall not live by bread alone [our earthly dependencies or whatever Satan’s offering], but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

But [Jesus] answered [Satan’s temptation] and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
—Matthew 4:4

Fasting is a spiritual discipline of forsaking natural satisfaction in pursuit of spiritual sustenance.

Without the **pursuit** of God, fasting is just dieting.

But, a real fast is much more.

Fasting is more than abstaining, it’s availing ourselves of the sustenance only God can provide, through seeking His revelation, obedience to what He reveals, while putting aside our earthly comforts and dependencies to rely on Him alone.

“In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’

But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat of which you do not know.’

Therefore the disciples said to one another, ‘Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?’

Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.'”
—John 4:31-34

Fasting is strength conditioning, where at the point of our weakness, His strength is made perfect. It is preparation for the trials that are sure to come.

I’m so thankful to my dear sister in Christ, Monica Banks, for her quiz that prepares me for the test.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG #fasting #spiritualwarfare

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #20 – A Tomato And Salt

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #20 – A Tomato And Salt

“Here,” my grandmother said as she cupped my left hand and took a tomato from the sill and put it in my right hand.

Then she sprinkled salt from a shaker in my cupped hand. She asked, “Want some pepper?” I shook my head, “No.”

“Bite your tomato and dip it in the salt”, she coached.

Amazing.

It tasted like their home on the farm smelled, of the earth, pure and sweet.

I went outside, sat on the stoop and ate my newfound treat in awe.

In week 20 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for a tomato and salt.

Something so simple is so profound.

It was like I could taste the entire farm: the sunshine and the rain, the dirt and the breeze, the sweat and the love that cultivated it.

My grandfather Percy Brown and my grandmother Sarah Brown built a home blanketed in love.

When you were there, it was at every turn and around every corner. Even the animals seemed to recognize it.

I have so many wonderful memories on that farm in Canton, Mississippi. There was great peace and so much love.

I have such a rich heritage.

I remember it every time I bite into a tomato.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

Image copyright 2008 Daniel E. Johnson – crossroadone.com

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