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 #5 – Friends Who Make You Better

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #5 – Friends Who Make You Better #52WoG
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #5 – Friends Who Make You Better #52WoG
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #5 – Friends Who Make You Better #52WoG
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #5 – Friends Who Make You Better #52WoG

In 5 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for friends that make you better.

I was reading an application essay written by our youngest son and happened upon the following lines that warmed my heart:

“Being a novice [astrophysics] theorist myself, I took great interest in this problem. I regularly discuss the issue with my best friend who also researches topics in general relativity and special relativity.”

Our son Roman was referring to his long-time friend Sebastian Harvey, someone with whom he is free to be his authentic self and who also challenges him and encourages him to excel.

I remember them taking the ACT together and when Roman received his score he called his friend to share the news. It turns out they both scored higher than the 90th percentile and were only one point apart. All you could hear throughout the house was, “Let’s go!!” exclaiming their genuine excitement for each other.

This is the type of encouragement that makes you want to do better and to be better because you have someone in your corner that fully expects that you can. I am so glad our son has that in his life. I am deeply appreciative to Sebastian Harvey for providing it.

It reminded me of how blessed I’ve been to have had multiple friends in my life like that. I am also reminded of how worthwhile it is to be that for others. I’m grateful. #52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #4 – Dr. George Bennett

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #4 – Dr. George Bennett #52WoG
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #4 – Dr. George Bennett #52WoG
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #4 – Dr. George Bennett #52WoG
Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #4 – Dr. George Bennett #52WoG

The flight instructor stands at the hanger, wearing old-school Chucks, beige cargo pants, a beige safari style shirt and a beige bucket sun hat. He’s scribbling into a small notebook using one of the many pens lining his left breast pocket. He occasionally looks up, peering over black-rimmed 1960’s style glasses to coach aspiring pilots through the nuances of a pre-flight check, expertly interspersing amazing tales of aviation history, daring feats of flight and near death encounters he’s personally experienced during his long and storied career. He smiles with each recounting and you can see the joy in his eyes from having spent his life doing what he loved.

Dr. Bennett is in his 80’s now, still crawling under a sailplane to check for the signs of wear and material fatigue that a novice might miss. He’s literally a legend but you’d never know because he’s utterly unassuming and completely approachable. He spends his weekends, oftentimes in grueling heat, climbing into a cockpit to pass on his vast experience to anyone wise enough to learn from it.

The flight instruction is being offered by the MSU Soaring Club provided through Mississippi State University. We’ve brought our son Roman to one of their meetings after a chance and kind introduction to the club by Jamie Jones. We’re hoping that Roman can join the club and start taking flying lessons. But as we look around, there is no one else near his age or his size. At eleven years old, the parachute nearly swallows him and probably weighs as much he does!

Being the expert that he is, Dr. Bennett makes mention of the minimum weight needed to achieve the proper distribution in the glider. At this point, Dr. Bennett could have very legitimately said Roman was not quite old enough to participate and that would have been that. But, Dr. Bennett looks at Roman and asks him directly, “You want to fly, don’t you? How much do you weigh?” After receiving Roman’s weight, Dr. Bennett makes a calculation and proceeds to use lead bags (those that typically holds down a wing of the gliders while it is stowed in the hanger) to make up for the lack in weight. But then, we’re faced with a new problem -Roman’s legs aren’t long enough to reach the pedals. Again, Dr. Bennett makes every accommodation so Roman can fly, telling him, “For now, we’ll focus on teaching you the stick controls and I’ll take care of everything else.”

From that moment almost five years ago, Dr. George, as we affectionally refer to him now, has not stopped pouring into Roman. He uses every break, every free moment between flights to share another lesson to prepare Roman for the next stage of his development as an aviator. It is quite something to behold how this man’s love of flying extends beyond the subject to his students. And, he does it all so effortlessly.

I’m not interested in aviation beyond supporting our son’s interest in it, but the apparent love around what Dr. George does has a draw to it. It makes me want to be around him, regardless of what he’s talking about. He’s teaching my son to fly but his example is teaching me a valuable lesson too. I’m grateful. #52WoG

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

That 90’s R&B Type Love

Black Couple
So, listening to 90’s R&B yesterday evening has got me in my feelings and thinking about the blissful allure of an intense, all-consuming, never-ending love that characterized our music. And, sometimes I think I want that, but I’ve learned to ask, “Is that really good?” Is the way I want to be loved healthy?

If I can be real for just a second, I will admit that I sometimes struggle with wanting to be the center of my wife’s universe. But I know that isn’t good because I lack the “weight” or kabad to hold everything in her universe together. Being the center of her universe puts me in a position to do something I’m not built for -to sustain someone else’s existence forever. Conversely, it puts my wife in a position to be sustained by something that will surely fail (even if I were perfect, I have to die at some point). Apply even a little Bible and you’ll quickly find that my looking to be central to another: to be exalted and worshiped, isn’t love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…”

To be blunt the love trumpeted by most music is promoting idolatry -a diversion of attention to someone or something else for what we should be getting from God.

So, what SHOULD we want? Answer: an intense, all-consuming, never-ending love with the only one who can deliver it -God. I believe the first step in really enjoying love is to be completely satisfied with Him -alone. Only then, can we really love or be loved by others, because if God is love (1 John 4:8), to love is to share God. And, for that He has to be central.

A Pursuit Greater Than Happiness

My marriage, like anything God creates, is not just for me. It’s for the benefit of those around me: for my children, my nieces & nephews, for my community -for the world. Marriage is the gold standard of relationships and if I cannot maintain the relationship that claims to be based on love, it sets a really low bar for the others.

So, I must fight for love, the hope of marriage. I must fight towards my wife. I must work through our differences. I must bless her and not hurt her. I must help bring to bear her God-given gifts to the world. I must do this, even in seasons of unhappiness, especially in seasons of unhappiness. I have a pursuit greater than happiness.

First posted on Facebook October 15, 2016 11:44:41 AM

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;