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

Beware Cultural Christianity

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Unity Is Not Conformity

Cultural Christianity is the reduction of Christianity to an identity.

Cultural Christians share language, conventions, and practices around Christian themes but do not recognize the deity of Christ nor submit to His authority as evidenced by their dissimilarity to His Biblical account.

The key characteristic of Cultural Christianity is the preeminence of the group. Cultural Christians prioritize membership to the group above submission to Christ.

Being a Cultural Christian does not require regeneration, belief or any lifestyle change besides participating in group-sanctioned activities that signal their affiliation. Membership is granted on the basis of conformity to the group.

Cultural Christianity adds members largely through cultural assimilation: the often unconscious adoption of the positions and behaviors of others whose acceptance is desired. It seeks cultural belonging and influence, not the Kingdom.

Beware #CulturalChristianity

Unity Is Not Conformity

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Unity Is Not Conformity

Something that is not lost on me is how different the disciples were.

Letters attributed to Matthew, Peter and John are starkly different (yet harmonious) perspectives of the same Jesus.

A dear brother, Tim Boden, once said of the body, “It’s as if we’re all peering through a keyhole and in our sharing what we see, we get a fuller picture of Jesus.”

What sets my heart aflame is that Jesus chose these different men intentionally, purposefully and strategically! (John 15:16, 1 Corinthians 12:18)

That’s how Jesus chose you!

Oh, what a revival we’re missing because we fail to see that unity is not conformity. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7) But moreover, because we do not trust the Holy Spirit.

Oh, that we would repent and believe the Spirit that Christ gives us so the Church would be revived!

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

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #12 – Martin Coleman

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Thankful For Martin Coleman (Twitter)

In Week 12 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for Martin Coleman.

One Sunday after service, Marty Coleman walks up, “Hey Brother Paul. I understand you have a business that does computer work. There is someone I think you should meet.”

He then waves over a young man who seems tired and despondent. His approach toward us from across the room was slow and labored. He’s disheveled. His hair is matted to his head with gel. His clothes are wrinkled like he had just rolled out of bed with them on. His glasses are so hazed, perhaps from the gel in his hair, that I can barely see his eyes.

Though his approach seemed reluctant, when we started talking, he opened up easily enough. He’s a gamer. He knows his way around technology by having built custom and very sophisticated gaming computers. Brother Marty’s hope was that I would be able to give this young man a job.

This is not long after the Great Recession. One of my largest clients, representing twenty-five percent of my business’s income, was a casualty of the economic downturn. I lost them to closure and many of my remaining clients cut their retainers in half. I feel personally responsible for the people that I hire. Each time I extend employment, my heart and philosophy is to provide that person a home either until they are ready to move on or, preferably, until we’ve helped them to advance in their career. I try not to hire anyone unless I feel there’s a good chance that I can provide that.

But, with the cuts, I couldn’t sustain the staff I had and was scrambling to find safe places for each of my employees to land. By the grace of God, opportunities -even better than they had with me opened up for every one of them. I was so thankful and relieved. Anyone that employs people knows that it is no small undertaking; taxes, withholding, reporting -just maintaining the revenue to make payroll is a tremendous burden. After having miracuously averted the near disaster of having to lay staff off, leaving people who are dear to me without means to provide for their families, I was perfectly content to go it alone for a while. I did not have any appetite for hiring anyone else and going through that again.

But, God.

My default position on the proposition of hiring anyone was flatly “no”. But, there was this nagging notion that this wasn’t just about hiring someone. I had a sense that this may be from God. But, I resisted it. It wasn’t anything I wanted to do. Business wasn’t great. I didn’t even know if I could really financially afford another a person but that nagging notion would not relent. I shared it with my wife who said, “If you believe this is something God is leading you to do baby, you need to be open and to trust Him.”

So, I begin to move in the direction I believed God may be leading. I start making calls. I learn that the young man is in recovery from a drug and alcohol addiction, has not long gotten out of prison and is staying with another brother from our fellowship. But, I find myself with a compassion I cannot explain and am moved to keep going. I call the brother that the young man is staying with as a character reference. He candidly and honestly reports, “He’s unreliable, he’s sleeps all day, he’s still drinking and he’s been lying about it.”

The Holy Spirit was like, “I’ll take him.”

I hired the young man that day and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

God provided and we worked together for years. We did more than work beside each other every day, we shared life. We laughed together -a lot. We studied the Bible together. We battled our demons together. We prayed together. We shared our dreams together. What was dear to him became dear to me and the other way around. To this day I can still feel his intense love for his family, especially his son. From that day it became my heart, to the extent that they will allow me, to treat his family as my own. He did the same for me.

Anyone that knows Melissa and I can attest that we are very particular about who keeps our children. They are a treasure to us. It would not be an exaggeration to say that we’d be reluctant to entrust even the Secret Service with our kids. As a result, we didn’t get out much. Observing that, this young man insisted that Melissa and I have a night to ourselves and volunteered to keep our boys. Having watched this young man grow over the years, we humbly accepted without hesitation or concern.

By the grace of God, the young man that had an addiction was transformed into one of the most diligent, devoted and trustworthy people I’ve ever known. He was among those that I can count on one hand that Melissa and I considered leaving our estate to and making responsible for the care of our children should we both die unexpectedly. He is a true and dearly beloved brother.

He would often gush about the difference I made in his life, not realizing the heavenly shift that God used him to make in mine. I have been continually praying to God to teach me to love the way He loves. God answered my prayer and taught me to love by sending me someone to love .

Moreover, he showed me other believers who did not just love in word but also in deed. They truly behaved as people of one heart and one soul, who had all things in common (Acts 2:44, 4:32). They opened their homes, they opened their hearts and treated this young man’s burdens as if they were their own. Their labor yielded a harvest of new life not only in him, but also in me, revealing to me the authentic Church in power and glory. Thank you Brother Marty for this life changing introduction. I’m eternally grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #9 – Encouragement From A Sister

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Thankful For Encouragement From A Sister

In Week 9 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for encouragement from a dear sister, Carrie McCarty Copeland.

For a while, I’ve been sad and discouraged –suffering silently. And, then my wife shares a message that was just sent to her by Carrie Copeland,

“Good morning, I’m praying for you and Paul today!! Whatever you two are facing God is in the midst…”

What extraordinary timing and how remarkably on the mark! I know I am not alone but it made all the difference for someone to take the time to make the truth real. Thank you sister, Carrie. This is church. I’m grateful #52WoG

An Unworldly Kingdom

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com An Unworldly Kingdom
What
kind of kingdom is this where the King kneels before His subjects and serves them? (John 13:1-17)
 
Its implications are staggering, among which is this:
 
No one in His kingdom is without care, honor or substance because our status in this kingdom does not come from how much you’ve got but how much you give.
 
That’s a kingdom I’d gladly give everything to.
 
That’s a kingdom I’d gladly die for.
 
It’s vastly superior to every human attempt at government.
 
Our marriages, our homes and the church should be a glorious demonstration of it.
 
Imagine the effect if everywhere that we have authority or influence were a demonstration of His kingdom. Glory! This is what I’m pressing into. We fall woefully short as believers but there is grace and power to fulfill our ministry.
 
Repent, the kingdom of heaven is as hand.

I Don’t Get Anything Out Of Church

Brainflurry.com - I Don't Get Anything Out Of Church - Grow up from Getting To Giving

“I see no reason to go. I don’t get anything out of it.”

Have you ever heard or said that about church? I sure have.

First, the whole “go to church” thing is deeply problematic. You are the church.

Secondly, to be clear, I’m not referring to the industrial church. I hate the industrial church. It’s objective is to make money to pay people. The objective of the living church is to be the bride of Christ. I’m referring to the latter.

Lastly, “I don’t get anything out of it” is baby talk. It is tragic to “go to church” for years and never grow beyond looking for absolution and seeking the peace that comes from the assurances of salvation. At some point in our spiritual development, these things should be firmly established and we should grow from getting to giving.

Among the reasons “we don’t get anything out of it” is typically there’s just one preacher that’s doing most of the giving. That shouldn’t be, everybody should be giving. “We should no longer be children… but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head –Christ –from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies according to the effective working by which EVERY part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” -Ephesians 4:14-16

We must move on from milk, looking just for what we can get: how I can be blessed, how I can encouraged, how I can be comforted, how I can have peace.

Our Lord did not say blessed are the peace-takers but “blessed are the peacemakers”. Matthew 5:9

So, we must grow to a stage of maturity where we are equipped to give. We must graduate from milk to meat (Hebrews 5:12) and this is the meat, “as He is, so are we in this world.” – 1 John 4:17

Christ who is our example said this, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45, Matthew 20:28

Giving is the mark of our maturity, that we bear fruit and the fruit that we should bear is love (Galatians 5:22).

Our Lord commands, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

So, I pray that our minds would be renewed concerning our approach to church, that we would move from thinking in terms of what we get or don’t, but instead what we can give and that being love. #perfectourlove

The Height Of Church Error: The Dark Gift Of Christmas

Brainflurry.com | The Dark Gift Of Christmas By Paul Luckett

Christmas represents the height of church error and consequently the height of iniquity in the world.

To draw unbelievers we incorporated their practices, even to the extent of creating idols and worshipping them.

We’ve created an entire season, so they’d stop worshipping their idols and worship ours -a demon whose name is More, the hellish spawn of greed, lust and discontent. We worship him saying, “More! More! There’s never enough!”

In service to this idol, we lie to our children outright, unwittingly discrediting The Way and impeaching ourselves as witnesses.

We tell our children myths and fairytales (Santa, etc.) to delight and control them and then expect them to believe our fantastical claims of faith. How, they could reason, is one different than the other?

If it were not enough to defile ourselves with idols and teach our children to do the same, we blaspheme and do it in Christ’s name.

But Christ did not come to give us what we want. We did not get to choose what we would get. And, what He offered we didn’t want. In fact, we were so offended at the Gift that we killed it. We seek satisfaction in our idols but instead find anxiety, burden and slavery. But rather than repent, we double down, thinking the answer is More.

But, so great is His love for us, that while we reject Him and make ourselves His enemy that He desires to give us the things that truly make for our peace – Himself. It is in a relationship with a loving, just and all-wise God that we are made whole because that was the purpose for which we were created. And, God sent His Son, Jesus the Christ, to utterly destroy anything that would separate us from Him -foremost our sin. When we believe Jesus, we are given the right to become children of God and look like Jesus; full of love, compassion and life that we share with the world!

This is the true gift. This is the purpose for which Christ came, to save us, transform us and unite us with the Father through Himself.

Repent. Believe Jesus Christ and receive the real gift.

Holy Savior Day

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #42 – Jannie Thompson

Jannie Thompson
Janine Thompson with Ebenezer youth at old Burger King
Janine Thompson jump rope Ebenezer youth
Ebenezer Youth Group

In Week 42 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for the youngest person I know, Jannie Thompson.

Miss Jannie (as she’s affectionately known around my house) was one of the first people to welcome me when I visited Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church as a college student. If Ebenezer had a mascot, it would be Jannie Thompson. She is the personification of the down-home kindness and warmth that characterizes that fellowship.

I got to know Ms. Jannie mostly by serving with her in the youth ministry. Among the many things I’ve come to love about Ms. Jannie is her enthusiasm for life. Whatever the youth were doing, she was doing. It didn’t matter if it was kickball, jumping rope or racing, she was in it to win it.

She kept us grounded because she is unapologetically real. She is one of the kindest people I’ve met but she will slip off those shoes and earrings on you, if she has to. Because she was so real, our time together as a youth group was real. We didn’t pretend or play church. We wrestled with real problems, discussed what was happening today and talked about how to apply our faith to real life.

But perhaps what I appreciate most about Ms. Jannie was her openness and big heart. There were kids that came to our church hurt, confused and alone but always found a safe place with Jannie Thompson. I personally saw her be understanding, forgiving and take in scores of people into her life where she would love on them and where they would find healing. I was one them. I’m grateful. #52WoG