Judge Not That You Be Not Judged

This is precisely what happened when God sent Jesus. They missed Him because He didn’t come in a package they approved of.

Jesus warned it will happen again, that we will fail to grasp Him, our light and life, when we overlook “the least of these” where He may be found. Matthew 25:45

Throw people away, whether because of their status, behavior, appearance, past, politics or even because they wronged you, at your own peril.

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46

Beware prejudice!

Consider again Luke 6:37-38 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Originally posted to Twitter here.

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52 Weeks of Gratefulness #8 – Jarvis Brinson

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Thankful For Jarvis Brinson
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com Thankful For Jarvis Brinson

In Week 8 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for Jarvis S. Brinson.

I am who I am by the grace of God. As I reflect on my journey, I often find that grace beautifully expressed through the life and influences of others. Jarvis Brinson was such an influence in my life.

When I think of Jarvis, the simple, yet apt description of him would be: he’s just a good guy. Jarvis is and has always been a kind, wholesome, trustworthy human being.

Jarvis was one of my best friends through high school and one of my earliest friends, if not the first friend I had outside of family. Our friendship dates back to elementary school. We grew up in the same neighborhood and his house would be my most frequent destination after school, on weekends and during summers. I remember the grand, elaborate plans we would make for tree houses and forts we were going to build. We spent most of our time planning and discussing our plans. Planning is probably what characterized our friendship the most. We would often walk to and from G.N. Smith Elementary School together, discussing our plans.

One of the things I cherish most about our friendship is that it wasn’t all talk. A product of our mini-mastermind sessions was our both applying to and attending my beloved alma mater, Bailey Magnet High School, an institution that remains unmatched in its impact on my life. I largely have Jarvis to thank for that. He would hold me accountable to act on my plans and I would watch in awe as he’d execute on his.

I’ll never forget Jarvis getting a job over the summer of our 8th and 9th grade years and by 10th grade, this dude had a whole truck. And, it was not just a truck, it was a new truck! I was so impressed and proud of him. He’d sometimes give me a ride to school and would drive with the conscientiousness of a senior citizen. He was meticulous in his observance of road safety and never once did anything to show off. The dude was a freak -a 50 year old in a 15 year old’s body. Well, maybe not a 15 year old’s body. Jarvis always looked mature for his age. Dude had a full mustache and goatee as early as the 6th grade, while I, meanwhile, was trying to fill in the peach fuzz above my lip with my mom’s mascara! About the only give-away that he was a teenager was the music he listened to. I remember the satisfying “thunk” the radio would make when he would insert a tape into it. It was Jarvis that introduced me to genres of music beyond the walled garden of “Kixie 107”. As a preacher’s kid, it was the only secular radio station that was not contraband in my house. His music collection was the first time I encountered “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics”. While Jarvis was buttoned up (or so appeared), his music was not. If there was any rebellious streak to be found, it was in his playlist.

Notwithstanding, Jarvis was the model of maturity. He was rock solid. He was a committed friend that followed through on his promises. He maintained his relationships purposefully and with intentionality. When we graduated and went off to differing colleges, Jarvis would write, yes write, full three and four page letters to stay in touch. In the beginning I would call and once or twice I would visit him but I came to a point in my life where I lost my way. But, Jarvis kept writing even when I did not respond. It is one of my sincerest regrets. I’d like to take this moment to say, “I’m sorry, Jarvis.” I’m sorry for taking your kindness and friendship for granted. I was fortunate to have ever been in your orbit. I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate the value of that. I humbly ask that you forgive me.

Yet, even with all the years that have transpired and my having taking the gift of his friendship for granted, I know I can again have a place with him, not because I assume his forgiveness or presume his graciousness, but because that’s just who Jarvis is.

I told a friend a few weeks ago who’s bearing with a wayward family member this: “When you’re dealing with someone who is lost, it is important that you do not move because the lost can only find their way when they have a fixed point to refer to”. Jarvis Brinson was such a point for me. I’m grateful. #52WoG

*Pictured from left to right, Jarvis Brinson, Paul Luckett and Christopher Johnson for our junior prom.

What Being The Prodigal Son Taught Me About Being Made Perfect In Love

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com What Being The Prodigal Son Taught Me About Being Perfected In Love

As I was studying for an upcoming marriage ministry that Melissa and I are a part of, the lesson converged in a beautiful and unexpected way with my meditations on home and I hope it blesses you the way it blessed me.

Our marriage ministry class is going through a workbook called Husband & Wives (I highly recommend it) and we’re on the chapter about love. In it I came across 1 John 4:18 that says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

It prompted the question, “What is the fear that this verse is referring to and what does it mean by torment?” Before I had completely formed the thought, I already knew in my heart what it meant. I am familiar with that torment.

It’s the torment of failing so miserably, being so broken, that no matter how you try, you’re utterly unable to fix it or to do anything that makes you worthy of acceptance. It’s the fear of rejection, of being abandoned and stranded, having no way home, it’s the terror of being alone.

And, that led me to understand what it meant to be “made perfect in love”. You know who was made perfect in love?

The Prodigal Son.

I know because I am the Prodigal Son. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32 take note that the son was loved by the father in such a way that “when he came to himself” (v17) he had reason to believe that he could return home. And, just as importantly, he also knew he could not return home and continue to live however he wanted -he had to repent (v18).

The son acknowledging his sin and assuming a posture of humility in his heart, began the trip home. He was on the way, but while “he was still a great way off” and before he could get out the apology he had been practicing, the father ran to him and embraced him. The son repented and asked to return home, not as a son, but as any other stranger whom his father might hire as a servant. “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.” (v23)

Rather than treat him as the prodigal and wayward son that he was, the father gave the son his best and restored him to what the father had always seen the son as: a prince. What amazing grace! It was as that moment, that what the son had only considered as a possibility before (maybe my father will accept me), he now knew irrevocably. It was then that the son was perfected in love because he knew that his acceptance was sure, because it was not based on his goodness but on the goodness of his father.

Hallelujah.

But, there’s more.

The father had another son. And as my mentor and spiritual father Pastor Gregory Jones would wisely point out, the lesson is as much about the second son as the first. The elder son who had remained home and who had been obedient was enraged at hearing of his father’s reception of his wanton and wasteful younger brother. But, “[the] father came out and pleaded with him”(v28) saying to the older son, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” (v31-32)

The lesson of the elder brother is this: you can “stay” in the house, do things that look right and be just as wayward in your heart as the prodigal son who “left”. To be perfected, we must have more than a mere association with the Father and more than works done out of rote obligation (Matthew 5:20). We have to know the Father (this is what Jesus came to teach us -John 14:6-7, John 17:1-4) and we must have the Father’s heart (when we believe Jesus, this is what He gives us -John 3).

To be made perfect in love is being assured of our acceptance in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6) because we know the goodness of the Father. Such love transforms us and gives us a heart to love the way he loves, not the world’s love that allows and approves of wrongdoing, but love that perfects, builds up and is gracious while affirming good and resisting evil. When we love the way He loves we become as He is and…

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:17-19

Whatever your proximity to God, no matter how far you think you’ve gotten, getting home takes only one step because God has been unceasingly moving towards you, His heart for you has never changed, before the beginning He made up His mind about you to love you. His love letter to us, the Bible, says that everyone who comes to Him, He will “by no means” turn away (John 6:37). And, the Way is Jesus who will teach us of the father’s goodness, give us the father’s heart, build us up into a spiritual home for others on this journey and perfect our love.

I’m a witness.

#perfectourlove

Fine Without God

Only Light In The Darkness

 

I reject God believing “I am fine without God”. At the heart of that thinking is a belief that the light I’m walking in is my own.
 
Whatever your proximity to God, all light you enjoy -any semblance of love, justice or truth comes from Him. These are not concepts of human invention or products of our effort. They are characteristics of God that emanate from Him and shine through His vessels.
 
But there is coming a terrible day, after God’s offer of Himself and plea to choose life has gone out to every creature under heaven, that God will withdraw Himself completely from those who reject Him,
 
“For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.” Isaiah 13:10, Mark 13:24
 
God will allow them their desire -utter darkness because “they loved darkness rather than light” John 3:19. In His withdrawal, He will also take His people. Not one who bares His Light will remain. Mankind will be completely left to languish in their own corruption and cruelty, being devoid of understanding, with no hope of any good. There will be no love, truth, justice nor anything of the sort -no light.
 
This is why Jesus proclaims, “I must work while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” John 9:4
 
I remember my ignorance of the harm I was doing and how I was being harmed, until finally I was forced to acknowledge my sin because it was piled up to heaven and I was being crushed under the weight of it. I was not fine without God. And, neither are you.
 
Be not deceived, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17
 
I am so thankful that while I was in darkness, hope remained for me and there shone a great light. Isaiah 9:2, Matthew 4:16
 
And, there remains hope for you! The love of God compels me, “Believe Jesus, be freed from darkness and receive the Light of the world!” John 8:12
 
How can you test what I’m saying? How can you know it is true? The closer you walk with God through faith in Christ, the greater your light will shine.

Dying For An Apology

Couple Disagreement

Has someone ever offended you and it seemed that the relationship was “on hold” until they apologized? Yep, me too. It naturally makes sense to think that the one who broke it should fix it. But, Jesus teaches something very different in Matthew 18:15. There, we’re told when someone hurts us, that we are to take initiative to restore the relationship and go to the offender. You’ll also find in Matthew 5:23-24, that Jesus commands those who realize they’ve hurt someone to take immediate action to restore the relationship. What does this mean? Regardless of who is in the wrong, I am responsible for doing all I can to pursue a healthy relationship.

I think this speaks to the heart of what it means to be Christian, a follower of Christ. Jesus’s entire purpose was to reconcile creation to God (Colossians 1:20). And to be Christian, is to be Christ-like. Therefore, we also have this ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). What this means to me is that our default disposition should be one of restoral. We should be driven, looking, to restore people to fellowship with God and then with us.

This helps me, especially in marriage. When my wife and I are at odds, I must take responsibility for restoring that fellowship -regardless of whether I hurt her or if she hurt me. Practically speaking, if I truly desire to maintain the relationship, I would remove any obstacles that prevent us from getting there. And among the first obstacles to remove is the idea that because I offended her or I was offended by her, I’ve taken a position that is against her. Instead, I must communicate, even over-communicate, that I am for her, I am not her enemy, and desire to be in fellowship with her again.

I’ve tried to implement this by establishing ongoing gestures that communicate my openness and good-will toward her. One of these gestures is simply to kiss her on the cheek or on her forehead every night before we retire to sleep (Ephesians 4:26). Whether she’s angry or whether I’m angry, I try to do this to communicate there’s hope and I’m open to restoring fellowship.

How is God doing that for you? How has He communicated His openness to you and the hope of fellowship with Him? First, have you received His gesture of goodwill? And secondly, how can you do more of that for others?

I’m Done

Photo: Pete Rosos

“I tire of asking you for what’s due me,” the thought began, “and of the insults in the things you don’t bother to do.” But just before the following thought, “I’m done” could form in my mind, it became clear what I was thinking about someone else, Jesus could say of me. And through the echo of Scripture, He went on to say, “Now, love them like I love you1 despite your frequent apathy and disrespect2. Work to this end3, believing I can give them a new heart4 and perfect their love, just as I’m doing in you5.”

1 John 13:34; 15:12; Colossians 3:12-15
2 Romans 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; Revelation 2:4-5; Revelation 3:15-18
3 John 17:15-21; Matthew 13:38; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:14-20
4 Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 5:16-19;
5 Philippians 1:6; Titus 3:1-7;