Leading With The Need: How We Get More From Church

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Leading With The Need: How We Get More From Church

Why can church seem plastic and empty?

Because I come to the King’s treasury laden with debt but I pretend like I’m rich.

I only leave empty because my pride prevents me from taking advantage of the King’s debt forgiveness program.

In order to do that I have to openly declare bankruptcy.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
— Matthew 5:3

In James 5:16, the author writes,

“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.”

Notice that confession of our sin PRECEDES healing —the establishment of healthy function.

Very often I get nothing from church because I pretend that I have it all together.

A pastor and mentor of mine, Pearson Liddell, advised me regarding ministry, “get real as quickly as possible, otherwise you’re wasting people’s time”.

When we don’t confess our sin, we leave money (healing) on the table.

So, for me, moving forward, every church service, fellowship, Bible study will begin with this question, “Where is the sin in my life?”

And what is sin?

Missing the mark.

It’s being outside the circle of love, outside the Kingdom of God. (sin state)

The result is always that we don’t love properly. (sin action)

Leading with the confession of our sin requires humility, looking into the mirror of the perfect law of liberty, turning the sword of the Word (which is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart -Hebrews 4:12) on myself (rather than against others as we so often like to do) and praying, “Lord, show me where I’m apart from You. Show me the areas where Satan sits on the throne in my life. Show me where I’m failing to love properly.”

There will always be something to confess, always an area where we can be healed, always a place where God can make us more glorious.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
— 1 John 1:8

There’s no sense in being sick, coming to the hospital and pretending that I’m OK.

I come to Christ through fellowship because I’m in need.

We should lead with our need.

I’ll start:

One of the greatest hindrances to my loving properly and to God’s glory being expressed in my life is that my regard for many things in this world have not yet descended to the level of trash.

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”
— Philippians 3:8

I am preoccupied with my appearance and have burdened myself with debt and unnecessary things to bolster it which keeps me from fellowship and hinders me from following Jesus completely and fearlessly.

Please pray for me.

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

Jesus In The Midst

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Jesus In The Midst

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

Jesus made a promise with this condition:
If two are more gathered in My name, meaning for the purpose(s), and for the pleasure of His position / office / station (Messiah),

Then, we are granted His power.

And, He, Jesus, is in the midst.

Therefore:

1. I will seek out and connect with people who are operating according to His purpose(s).
2. And, I will expect Jesus.

He is there because He said He would be.

There, I will tune my heart to His presence, so that I may see Him, hear Him, feel Him and know Him.

To do that, I must not harden my heart by embracing this world, by accepting the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and instead become as a little child who knows nothing and look to my Father and learn of Him for everything.

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
—James 4:4

We can’t have both. We must chose where we will ultimately put our trust. A double-minded man gets nothing.

I must distrust this world -that is, divest, take my trust out of the identities the world tries to give you, out of the things the world treasures, and out of the meaning or meaninglessness the world proclaims.

“let God be true but every man a liar”
—Romans 3:4

Instead, I must, invest, put my whole trust in Christ and trust Him to define my identity, to treasure what He treasures, and to trust that His purposes are true, will not fail and is what life is all about (meaning).

Then, I will be able to see Him more clearly.

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
—1 Corinthians 13:12

On a related aside, in a Christian home with a husband and wife, those are two, so there should be three. Jesus should be in every such home.

Where two or more are gathered in His name, Jesus is there in the midst.

We can do more than “know about” God.
We can know God.
We can be sense, experience and be with God!

I can see Him if I want that more than anything. (Matthew 10:37-39)
#goals #KnowGod #KnowingGod

The Discipline Of Looking For Life In Others

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - The Discipline Of Looking For Life In Others

It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong or where I believe a person is falling short and completely overlook the areas where they’re growing and making an effort.

To ignore or deny where a person is trying is discouraging and destructive.

I realize how I’ve been guilty of this and I repent.

Very often, we kill the grape vine we’re given because we’re looking for an apple tree (and it might not even be the season for whatever we’re looking for).

I must learn to work patiently with the Holy Spirit within His appointed seasons, to sow what I want (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) and faithfully attend to what I get, to nurture and cultivate what is rather than railing against what isn’t.

God has placed me in a garden. I have been entrusted with many fields. The goal is that there would be life in those fields and to help them be fruitful.

I must remember that the goal is not to get what I want, but to seek what God wants -fruit: to be co-laborers with God in conforming each person, all the fields He’s given me the great privilege of working with Him in, to the glorious image of Christ.

So, a good question to ask in my frustration about what I’m not seeing is, where else are they trying, where else are they budding, what is needful for Christ to be further formed in them?

Then I can turn that budding seed toward the Son, nurture it, and lean into what God is doing -in them and me.

“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.” –1 Corinthians 13:7-8

#perfectourlove

What Shall We Do

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - What Shall We Do?

Prostrate. Repentance. Praise.

These are proper responses to God.

I thank God for my dear sister Stephanie Atkins Arnett who regularly challenges me with her bias toward love in action. She asked a question that reminded me of the believers’ response to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost in Acts 2:37,

“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?'”

In a previous post, I admonished us as a church, declaring that we have a problem.

The problem is we don’t love each other.

Sister Stephanie replied,

“You cited a challenge of our community…
Several have accepted the premise…
My question to you… what are actionable steps we can take, in addition to prayer?”

Thank you, dear sister, for that question and challenge!

This is what I believe God has put in my heart:

First, we need to become and operate as disciples NOT as members of an organization. Each of us, every one of us, should be functioning and expressing the life of Christ everywhere, every day and not just at club sanctioned activities.

Then, my answer [to the question] would first be the answer of the first century church, to come together at every opportunity (Acts 2:46), and labor intentionally to remove everything that separates us (Ephesians 4:1-5).

The idea is simple: by the grace of God, love each other the way Christ loves us, which flows out of the way He loves the Father, and then invite others into that love.

I have a vision of various fellowships across our community being held by disciples (not as a club recruitment function but as a sharing the love of Christ function) in their homes and businesses every day where we share the love of Christ and learn how to grow it (different people hosting at different places on different days. I personally want to attend one every day). Praise God that this is already happening to some degree.

We should then look around our fellowships and ask, “Is this representative of the makeup of my community, and moreover is this representative of the Kingdom of God?” If it is not, repent and strive to correct that. As Christ left heaven to get us, we should leave our comfort zones to get them (those that are lost or missing).

We should then connect those fellowships, using that network to identify and address needs and seize opportunities to grow the family of God.

Let’s start by dropping any such fellowships (not as a club recruitment function but as a sharing the love of Christ function) that we’re aware of in the comments.

If you’d like some training on this, let me know and we’ll make that happen.

Thanks again dear sister for the call to arms and action!

I love you.

Why I Hate This Cross

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Why I Hate The Starkville Cross Of Christ
Photo Courtesy Of Columbus Dispatch

Someone asked me privately why “I hate this thing” referring to the Starkville Cross of Christ as I mentioned in a previous post.

The ultimate point of that post was not the cross but how those of us in Christ can, by His grace, push past even very strongly held positions to fight toward each other in love.

Notwithstanding, I think it would be helpful to the cause of “fighting toward each other in love” to understand why I disdain this monument.

Despite a lot of responses to the post focusing on it, for me, it is not about the money or what it could have been better spent toward. That’s tertiary, at best.

But as I have written previously, I find the giant cross problematic, “not because of what it is but because of what it was erected in the absence of”.

The absence I’m referring to is love, basically.

Everything else is derivative.

It’s unfortunate that this cross was erected during one of the most divisive times in history, meanwhile:

there is no concerted effort by the Christian community here to address the schisms in the church. Sunday remains the most segregated day of the week.

there is no concerted effort by the church to address schisms in our community. We remain very divided.

and, there are a host of community challenges we, as the church, are well equipped and well resourced to address, yet no concerted effort.

We seem happy with the level of suffering around us, but erect a giant cross to symbolize Christ’s love.

Sigh.

Love is the primary thing.

And, that is what I find absent.

Building shelters, providing food banks, or erecting giant crosses will all be ultimately unprofitable without love.

As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, I can do all sorts of amazing and even extreme things like selling everything I have to feed the poor or even giving my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Christ’s love is supernatural because it’s God’s love.

That love will transform our community and us.

That love will engender the response appropriate to meet the specific need of each individual and branches properly to connect them all (to God).

It’s only something that those of us who are called by Christ can do.

Tactics ain’t gonna get it.

At the very most basic application, I can tell you that no one I love is going without anything if I can help it.

The problem is we don’t love each other.

Is there truly a God?

I believe there is.

Prove it.

Love miracuously.

Due Honor: Jada

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Due Honor: Jada

“And, Jada?!” this older white lady yells across the counter at the deli, “I’m done with that. I’ve given all that up; pastries, cakes, donuts, those sorts of things. I’m just doing fruit and water now.”

“Why’s that?” Jada replies as she approaches the counter, packaging the meat she’s just sliced for her.

“I’ve got to get these pounds off,” the lady quips as she playfully wriggles her hips.

Jada smiles, hands her the meat, leaning slightly across the counter. “I like your nails,” Jada remarks, “Did you just get them done?”

The older lady extends her hand in an exaggerated motion and says, “Yeah I wanted to be sassy but not too hussy.”

The lady’s name is Shirley. She is 86 years old, in Walmart, shopping, bursting with life.

A lot of that is due to people like Jada.

I know from experience that a lot of older people come to places like the gym and stores like Walmart because they’re lonely and to get social interaction.

I often say that “love is in the extra.”

Jada could have just done her job, but she went the extra mile, she made extra effort to connect with another human being which I know has an emotional cost. And, from what I can tell through her interaction with me is that she’d been doing it all the time. That takes a special person. It’s people like Jada that make our community and lives so much more enjoyable.

Jada could have just done her job, but I know her seemingly small kindnesses did more than any of us could imagine.

If you happen to be at Neighborhood Walmart on Market St. in Starkville, go to the deli, let her know she’s appreciated and tell her manager how awesome she is.

I did.

#duehonor

Casting Off Into The River Of God’s Grace

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Casting Off Into The River Of God's Grace

“I don’t want to go to lunch with you (or anybody).”

That was my thought after receiving an invitation to lunch from William Sansing.

But God is doing a work in me, teaching me that people are gateways to His presence and His Love is the key.

“Cast off into the river of God’s grace,” was the Word to me.

So, I went, casting off, seeking to meet God through fellowship with a stranger.

I define “blessing” as what brings me closer to God.

Lunch with William Sansing blessed me.

“When You Said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
– Psalm 27:8

I may have a gained a friend, perhaps even a brother. The test will be if we continue to share, not only lunch but life. That will require discomfort, risk, humility, grace –action.

Obedience is wildly uncomfortable. But, I so desire God that I’m willing to be uncomfortable, if it means I get more of Him.

So, we outchea.

Originally posted 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 #41 – Childhood Neighborhood

Childhood Neighborhood - Facebook

Image Courtesy of Google Maps

In Week 41 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for my childhood neighborhood.

I find the sound of lawn mowers strangely satisfying.

It elicits feelings of safety and security. When I was growing up as a kid in Jackson, Mississippi, lawn mowers were part of a cacophony of sounds that announced the arrival of a new Saturday morning. It meant it was sunny, the day was underway, the neighborhood was awake and that it was time to go out and play.

As I reflect back on this as an adult, it has another meaning that I didn’t consider consciously as a child but nonetheless planted the sentiments I find myself reflecting on today. And that is, I had neighbors who cared.

They cared enough to be up at the crack of dawn to weed flowerbeds, trim hedges and mow lawns. They cared enough to organize neighborhood watches and neighborhood events.

I remember during Christmas, the neighbors would come together to select a theme for the entire neighborhood. Each yard had common decoration elements such as a frosty white Christmas tree behind a spotlight and matching signage with different phrases like “Joy to the world”.

There was a deep sense of pride in *our* neighborhood characterized by doing things with each other and for each other. We were together and it made me as a child feel secure. I pray we can get back to that. I’m grateful. #52WoG