52 Weeks of Gratefulness #5 – A Wife

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #5 – A Wife

In week 5 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for a wife.

“This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased,” is what God says of Jesus. That leaves me in awe. To receive such an affirmation from the God of the universe, I can’t imagine it. There is nothing I’d like more than to know God is pleased with me.

He has.

Because of His pleasure in and love for His Son Jesus, who was obedient to death, God gives Him a people.

He gives me a wife.

I find that the more like His Son that He makes me, the more obedient I become, the more of her I get.

Words fail me to express all that my wife is to me.

My very being aches for her. I so adore her.

She catches me staring at times because I can scarcely believe it.

I examine her, every inch of her, the way one might examine an unbelievable treasure.

She is an indescribable gift that leaves me in awe.

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

I’m thankful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #4 – A Brother’s Reminder Of The Father’s Love

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #4 – A Brother's Reminder Of The Father's Love

In Week 4 of 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness I give thanks for a brother’s reminder of the Father’s Love.

A dear brother, David Purvis, sent me a text message out of the blue that said, “Paul you have been on my heart. […] The Lord wanted me to tell you that He loves you and is so proud of you. He wants you to know this so you can have great joy.”

I can readily see this and believe this for others but I will admit that the Lord being “so proud” of me was hard for me to conceive, let alone receive.

That same night I was at a Man Church fellowship where Brother Luke Gardner shared “You are justified in Christ Jesus,” (1 Corinthians 6:11) and then did this little play on the word to drive the concept home.

Justified.

Just if I’d never sinned.
Just if I’d always obeyed.

Because of Christ, that’s how God sees me.

What amazing grace.

I have to be careful not to confuse how I feel about myself with how God feels about me.

As it pertains to me, I often allow the accuser to make accusations unchallenged resulting in me being unkind to myself and my own worst critic. But, no more.

Let God be true.

I just see a lump of clay but God sees the finished product and it pleases Him.

And, it’s not because of what I’ve done but because of who I am in Christ as a result of what He’s done.

It is impossible for me to mess this up.

Nothing will separate me from this Love.

Grace on top of grace.

Inconceivable.

The joy is welling up to overflowing. Thank you for this reminder, Brother Purvis.

I’m thankful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #1 2023 – Fellowship With Brothers And Sisters In Christ

Do you remember when I said I was going through a rough patch a while back?

It was a season that started much earlier than the day I finally mustered the courage to admit it and ask for help.

It started around the time the 52 Weeks of Gratefulness posts stopped.

One of the first things Satan attacked was my thankfulness. There was a campaign to maximize self by emphasizing my trouble and minimizing the triumph I have in Christ.

Earlier last year, I was in a very dark place. I came to a point where after over 20 years preaching the gospel I was ready to walk away from God. Some people who have heard that thought I was overstating the case, that I was exaggerating or that I’m being dramatic. But, no. I began to doubt the very existence of God. I started questioning the reality of His person, His power and His presence based on what I thought should (or shouldn’t) be happening in my life.

There were a lot of things that led to that moment, aging loved ones, difficulty in my marriage, financial troubles, but it came to a head during a really rough summer for my business. It was worse than it had been in a long time. I was finding it difficult to cover basic expenses. It just felt like I had been struggling forever. Here I am following God, trying to honor Him, but there just doesn’t seem to be any relief or breakthrough, and for all I’ve done, I’m still a failure.

But, thanks be to God that even though I was ready to walk away, I found that I wasn’t holding on to God, God was holding on to me! His Word came to me as gentle as a whisper “Where are you?” When God asks a question, it’s not because He needs information but because He is trying to show us something. His question began a dialog called prayer where I confessed my anger, my frustration and how I just don’t feel God anymore.

God gave me one verse. He brought to remembrance one line and made it burn on my heart (this is why it is vital to get the Word in you.) That verse was Proverbs 18:1 “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.”

The idea was that part of my problem was that I was focused on myself. I had allowed a root of bitterness to spring up in me and I went into myself, crawling into the dungeon of my heart to nurse and steep in that bitterness. In doing that I had cut myself off. But God gave me a Word that prompted me to seek His face in the presence of His people.

So, I stepped out on that Word and that led to me attending the Men’s luncheon that they host at New Horizons here in Starkville, and that led to me engaging with Brian Spencer at the gym, and that led to me attending my first Man Church and that led to me developing new relationships and my wife and I started hosting a marriage ministry in our home and you know what I found? The Word of God is true! I found revival in the presence of His people.

Look, I have long considered myself a rabid introvert. I am not fond of being around people. I like being by myself, I’d rather be by myself. Being around a lot of people was torture and zapped all the strength out of me. When I’m around people for an extended amount of time, I go home and just collapse and sleep for the rest of the day because of how much it takes out of me.

But now since I’ve tasted the sweet communion of being in the presence of God with other believers, since I’ve experienced Christ where two or three are gathered in His name, I’ve been going out, seeking Him out almost every day.

I’m not talking about “going to church”. I’m talking about seeking to live and function along with other members of the Body of Christ and being the church.

Thankfulness is not just something you should remember to do occasionally, thankfulness should be developed and practiced as a discipline. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thankfulness is a practical and important tactical maneuver in spiritual warfare.

So, in Week 1 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. It saved my life.

If you prayed for me, thank you. The prayers were effective.

I’m thankful. #52wog

Pictured is a regular get together with other members of a marriage ministry Melissa Luckett and I attended that was hosted by Pearson & Pepper Liddell. It was the first place we encountered authentic church.

Originally posted by Paul Luckett to Facebook here.

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52 Weeks of Gratefulness #20 – John “J” Jefferson

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #20 – John "J" Jefferson
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #20 – John "J" Jefferson

In Week 20 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for John Jefferson aka “J”.

Ok. I’m breaking rules by taking pictures of people in the gym but this is for a good cause and I wanted you to see him in the context where I usually encounter him.

My wife sent me this little quip a couple of weeks ago about how we can either be thermometers or thermostats. We can either take on the temperature of the room (thermometer) or we can change the climate of the room (thermostat). “J” is definitely a thermostat.

Years ago, I’m in the gym and this dude walks up to me out of the blue with one of his fists extended and simply says, “You aight, bro?” We bump fists, exchange greetings and then get on with the next set. That simple exchange changed the entire atmosphere of the gym. He didn’t just do that with me, he does it with everybody. And now, all the guys greet each other. We’ve become more mindful of each other, more courteous about how we use stations and put up equipment. We spot each other and encourage each other. I have made real friends like Daniel Russell all because one guy was intentional and consistent about saying, “Hi” which encouraged me to follow suit.

But, there’s even more about “J” that I’m thankful for beyond this powerful act of leadership. J’s entire attitude is culture shifting. You’ll often find him in the gym early, at 5 AM, fully alive. He’s going all out, often looking like Bane using some apparatus of tortue (elevation training mask, vertical jump training belt, weight vest, etc.), all while singing or dancing or both! He exudes joy.

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know him a little and I know he’s faced some serious and difficult challenges in the last couple of years. But, it appears he takes the same approach to that as he does his workouts, even in the midst of adversity he seems determined to enjoy every minute of life and to take others with him.

He’s also a soldier, serving our country at the highest level (to put one’s life on the line). I see him leading in so many ways that I want to follow. He inspires me to step out of my comfort zone and to live with joy for the benefit of others.

I’m grateful. #52WoG

Originally posted by Paul Luckett to Facebook here.

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52 Weeks of Gratefulness #19 – People Who Put The Public In Public Education

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Grateful For The People Who Put The Public In Public Education
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Grateful For The People Who Put The Public In Public Education

In Week 19 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for people that put the “public” in public education.

In this photo our son Chris is headed to a trip to willingly spend days in the woods woods (the duplication is on purpose for emphasis –this was deep, hot, tick and mosquito infested woods, not some glamping trip). Our son was eager to go all because when Dr. Jessica Witt Tegt and her family made Starkville their home she, being a scientist, saw where she should could make a contribution and help take science education to the next level in our community’s schools.

Chris joined Dr. Tegt’s Science Club back in 2011. As I write this, he is now finishing his first week interning with a leading timberland management firm. Chris talks often about his desire to share the inspiration he received with other kids in the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District. This happened, largely because someone saw an opportunity to make things better for our community and cared enough to to do something about it.

When we, as the public, love where we live, take ownership and participate in the care, maintenance and improvement of public resources such as our schools, that extra effort makes for an extraordinary community.

This particular picture made me recall the work of Dr. Jessica Tegt and Team Awesome: Evan O’Donnell, Beverly Keasler, et al. But, I’ve seen so many people taking initiative and going the extra mile: whether it’s Dr. Kay Fennell Brocato who tirelessly advocated for Studio School (concepts from which are present today in our District’s state of the art Partnership School) or Dr. Alison Buehler who identified 3rd graders struggling to read at grade level and recruited volunteers to implement a remediation program that she designed or Vanessa Shaffer who advocated for the sport of tennis and held her own tennis camps to help on-ramp kids to the high school tennis team or Eileen Carr-Tabb who mans concession stands to support our district’s teams just because she’s a member of the community or Chief Sammy Shumaker who organized men to stand in the gap, pray over each and every one of our schools and mentor young men.

I could go on.

I am thankful for neighbors that put the “public” in public schools, who demonstrate what it means to live in community and take our collective success personally.

I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #18 – The Stopping Game

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Thankful For My Mom And The Stopping Game

In Week 18 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for a fond memory of my mother and her Stopping Game.

My Mom made everything fun.

When I was learning to drive she made up this game to see who could stop the car most smoothly.

A successful stop was one that was gentle on the passengers and did not cause them to jerk forward in their seats. An excellent stop was one that your passengers barely felt.

On our way to choir rehearsal or Bible class (as church was our most common destination), we’d take turns driving to see who could stop the car better.

My younger brother, though too young to drive at the time, would get in on the game too. We’d all have so much fun exaggerating like we were going to get thrown out of the car when the driver was making a stop.

At the time, I was completely unaware that my mother was teaching me to be calm behind the wheel, gentleness with the pedals, speed management and to better gauge distances in traffic. But even more than that, my mother turned what would have been a loathsome task (going to church) into absolute joy.

My Mom constantly did stuff like this. This is what motherhood looks like to me, she was simultaneously my best teacher and my first friend.

Oh, what a blessing Rosemary Luckett is to me.

I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #16 – Fruitful Words From A Friend

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Thankful For Fruitful Words From Josh T Taylor

In Week 16 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for a fruitful word from a friend, Josh “T” Taylor.

I want to advance the Kingdom of God.

But, how we imagine the Kingdom and what it actually is are often starkly different.

It is easy for us to be deceived by appearances, to busy ourselves with religious activities, to feel affirmed by big crowds and large projects, but all the while having done nothing for the Kingdom. (Matthew 7:21-27)

I have struggled with wanting to do something “big” and feeling like I’m not doing enough… that is, until my brother, Josh “T” Taylor, shared a word that has been setting me free.

“T” and I attend a marriage ministry together. It is a small group but it is very rich.

One day, we were talking about the role our marriages play in the Kingdom by glorifying God in how we as husbands and wives reflect Christ’s love.

In that moment “T” pivoted and said something that completely shifted my view of ministry. He was sharing water that he had received elsewhere but it was particularly refreshing to me because it was filtered through his sincerity, his love for me and his applying it in his own life.

He said, “The Kingdom of God advances at the speed of relationships.”

That word immediately affirmed itself. My heart was set on fire as much by the messenger as by the message.

It was illuminating. It revealed, among many things, how I often get distracted seeking outcomes while God seeks hearts. And, we reach those hearts, not by large, flashy ministries but by Spirit-filled, sacrificial, longsuffering love for people as they come to us, which is most often one at a time.

I repent. Not my will Father, but Your will be done. (John 6:38)

This word from a friend and dear brother has been a great ministry to me. I will go forward in service to the Father, seeking to be faithful with whatever He places in my charge -one talent or five, and trust God with the rest.

Thank you “T”. I love you.

I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #15 – A Mentor’s Admonition

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Thankful For A Mentor's Admonition

In Week 15 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for a mentor’s admonishment.

Our long time friends, pastors and mentors Pearson and Gloria Liddell were moving thousands of miles away.

As we were seeing them off, I asked Pearson, “What do I need to work on?” “Where do you see I need to grow?” Pearson being Pearson studied the question for a moment before giving his thoughtful, heart-felt response. His reply to me in a word was, “Compassion.”

My wife remarked how she loved the response because Pearson expanded the scope and rather than make it about me personally, he gave me something for ministry.

I took his words to heart and have studied them ever since.

I could write a book from my takeaways, but the condensed summary is this:

If I don’t love you, I’m disqualified from ministering to you.

But, I do love you or at the very least I want to because Someone I love dearly loves you even more.

Pearsons admonition challenged me to always seek to have the love Christ has for everyone I encounter. It is timeless yet a timely reminder for me in this season.

I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #14 – William Chapman

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Thankful For William Bill Dad Chapman

In Week 14 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for William Chapman.

What is it about us and food?

Our best moments seemed to be around breaking bread. This is the best picture I have of you because often when we’re together, we’re too busy eating for me to take pictures. And, here I’m sharing a meal with you and Tan at the Starkville Korean Church where you were a long time friend and faithful minister to that congregation.

The very first time I remember our sharing a meal together was at the men’s luncheon that meets on Thursdays at New Horizons Christian Fellowship, another place where you were also a long time friend and faithful minister. That’s where I got my first real glimpse of you and your cheeky attitude. I remember saying to you, “I solicit your counsel and give you authority to correct me,” and you snarkily replied, “I was going to do that anyway because I already have that authority.” Smart butt. That was the point that we became friends.

We’ve shared several meals since then, each time you were ministering. The first time I came to visit you in the hospital, you said “What do you have for me?” and you went on to teach how when a minister is visiting the sick, they should come either with a Word, a prayer or a song. With each visit we’d edify each other and then share a meal.

At your funeral, I learned that you did that all over the place: at the Starkville Korean Church, the Starkville Chinese Christian Church, Second Baptist Missionary Baptist Church, New Horizon’s Men’s Lunch, Mississippi State Christian Faculty Forum, teaching online Bible classes to people in China and on, and on. By God’s grace, that’s who you are: a minister and connector to the beautifully diverse, international, multi-ethnic, global body of Christ.

This brings me to our last meal together on Monday, April 4th 2022, where I also administered communion to you. You shared how you and your family were making your funeral arrangements. Your final remarks to me are etched in my soul. The first being, “I see no downside. Either Jesus will be the first face I see or that of my wife Tan. To live is Christ. To die is gain.” And, your last being, “Make sure they emphasize the importance of the diversity in the body.”

But, here you are, a white man, taking communion to your lips from my hand, a black man, as though you were receiving it from the Lord Himself.

Not once have you ever uttered, “I don’t see race.” Rather, you saw my blackness and did not consider it as a flaw but a feature of God’s design and embraced me. You did this for many others.

As I consider your last words to me, “Make sure they emphasize the importance of the diversity in the body,” and as I look around at your funeral, at those who have been born, grown and connected by your ministry, I see no need, your life has already done that. What I will do instead is endeavor to continue what you’ve done.

How fitting that we quite literally shared your last supper, a sacrament that connects us to every believer past, present and future, through the body and blood of Christ. Jesus said that “many will come from the East and West and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). What a glorious day that will be when you and I are assembled with believers from every nation, tribe and tongue (Revelations 7:9) to sup again with our Lord (Mark 14:25)!

Thank you for sharing a spiritual, cosmic, much more beautiful view of the kingdom than our natural, limited perspective allows. I’m grateful. #52WoG