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.

One More

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - One More

Something that struck me today as we were reflecting on the last utterances of Jesus from the cross…

There’s no indication that the Man had eaten.

He’s likely dizzy from the blood loss of the scourging alone. ¹

He struggles to carry the implement of His torture, weighing upwards of 175 lbs (79kg), for more than 650 yards (600m). ²

When He finally gets to the hill, He’s rewarded with nails driven through His flesh to fix Him to the cross. ³

He’s struggling to breath from the asphyxiation the cross was designed to produce.

He’s being humiliated, openly mocked even by both of the thieves He’s being crucified between. ⁴

But somewhere along the way, one thief has a change of heart. ⁵

Bloodied, beaten and dying, what does our Lord think?

One more.

Hallelujah.

In His state, Jesus makes the time for a thief, a “convicted felon” as someone put it today, to accept his repentance and to assure his salvation because the condemned man simply believed Jesus was a King not of this world. (Luke 23:39)

Jesus makes time for him in the midst of all He was going through to minister to him and say, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” ⁶

To His dying breath, Jesus used every ounce of strength He had to do His Father’s will.

This illuminates John 13:1,
“[…] Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” -John 13:1

He loved them to end with everything that He had -love that reconciled them to the Father.

That’s the standard.

This is a Perfect Picture of what it looks like to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. ⁷

My Lord and My God.

What excuse do I possibly have for not loving to the very end, especially since I “have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin”?! (Hebrews 12:4)

The calling is indeed high. So, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12)

When I am tired, hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and beat down ⁸, by His grace I aim to be like my Savior and think, “One more.”

¹ Matthew 27:26, John 19:1
² Matthew 27:29
³ John 20:25
⁴ Matthew 27:44
⁵ Luke 23:38-42
⁶ Luke 23:43
⁷ Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:29-31
⁸ 2 Corinthians 4:7

A True Safe Sure Love

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - A True Safe Sure Love

If I’m accepted and loved on the basis of my appearance, then I’m doomed to abandonment –we all are, eventually.

That is why I am so glad that Someone loved me on the basis of who God is rather than who I am.

That Someone loved me on the basis of God’s character which is sure and never changes, and that Someone therefore chooses to love me simply because He (God) is resolved to.

There is nowhere more safe or more certain than that.

Being a recipient of such great a love, I want and strive to love like that.

This love is needed and applies to every relationship in every sphere, but here’s a practical example of how it plays out at home and in my marriage.

My wife will occasionally ask me, “Why do you love me?”

My response is always the same.

“Because you’re mine to love.”

Jesus taught me that.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” -John 15:9

True love requires knowing God.
Knowing God requires knowing Jesus.
Knowing Jesus requires believing what the Holy Spirit revealed about Jesus.
Believing what the Holy Spirit revealed requires receiving what He’s given: Holy Scripture.

Read the Bible seeking.
Believe Jesus.
Love.

#perfectourlove

Three States Of Marriage Triangle

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Three States Of Marriage Triangle
3 States Of Marriage Triangle

This is something my wife and I cover with couples in counseling in preparation for their wedding day. I’m sharing it in hopes it will be a blessing to someone else.

The Three States Of Marriage Triangle

Marriage is God making two –a husband and a wife, one in Him.

No power is capable of facilitating this union and holding it together other than God’s love.

God is love.

We cannot love without love.

Therefore, everything starts with Him and is done through Him.

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Love begins with His revelation and then our acceptance of His love for us.

Thereby, we see what love is, what is good, what is true and how it’s done.

We, as a husband or a wife, participate in marriage by being loved by God, modeling ourselves after God, and ministering the love of God to each other.

In a healthy marriage, the husband and wife minister the love of God toward each other, a perpetual process of perfecting –sanctification: that reveals, cleanses and draws.

Through this process they increasingly become One until the distinction between husband and wife is nearly indiscernible except that they’re merely different expressions of the same life-giving whole.

Attending to this process should be a husband’s top priority and occupation.

As a husband, he should be diligent to know the state of his wife and their marriage, careful to cultivate, water and fertilize with the nurture of God’s Love.

A husband should also be vigilant against evil, careful to weed and prune anything hindering their growth.

If it so happens that a husband or wife becomes distant (out of fellowship with God and therefore out of fellowship with the spouse), the marriage becomes anemic.

Our tendency is to look toward our spouse and concentrate on what we’re not getting that we think we should. This only causes more harm and it’s not God’s way.

Consider Jesus. No matter what we did (or did not do that we should have), Jesus was not moved. He focused on the love between Him and the Father and ministered that love to us.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” – John 15:9

God is faithful and His love toward that drifting spouse remains constant. So, we look toward Him. We focus on His love toward us to get what we need and then minister His love toward our spouse.

Love from above. Love from below.

There is no better means or greater power to restore someone to fellowship than God’s love.

Enticements, appeasement, grand expressions, manipulation and coercion only work for a little while, if at all.

But, love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Receive Love.
Give Love.
Trust Love.

And, in the last state where both spouses are distant (out of fellowship with God therefore out of fellowship with each other), the marriage is broken. This condition should be avoided at all cost by personally always drawing near to the Savior, Jesus Christ.

But even in the worst case scenario, God gives a way back to fellowship. Just one needs to look up.

I began by saying marriage is God making two one. And, everything I have said applies to two believers.

Before you say “I do” to each other, make sure you’ve both said, “I do” to Jesus’s proposal.

To have a healthy marriage, it is vital to not be unequally yoked.

#perfectourlove

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A Love So Different It’s Like Night And Day

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - A Love So Different It's Like Night And Day

A concept that has alluded me and that was so distant and alien to me, seems so plain and elementary to me now:

We believe that Jesus came down from heaven not only to save us but humbled Himself to serve those who should be serving Him to the extent that He gave His very life on the cross all because of His great love for us (Philippians 2:5-11).

But, that is not true.

Jesus did not do it because of His great love for us.

Jesus did it because of His great love for the Father (John 6:38, 14:31, Philippians 2:8).

Jesus was so faithful to His love for the Father that He was willing to give everything for it (John 8:29, 12:27-28, Philippians 2:8).

He loved God with all His heart, all His soul, with all His mind and with all His strength (John 4:34, Luke 22:41-44, Philippians 2:8).

True love has to start there.

That’s why it’s the first and greatest commandment (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Mark 12:28-30).

“Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. ‘ – Mark 12:28-30

The love of the world is like living our whole life under moonlight. It can be beautiful but that light is merely a reflection of the true source of light and it cannot give life.

While love that begins with God is like walking in the light of the sun which gives life. Moonlight is nothing in comparison.

What I thought love was and what Jesus is showing me Love is, is like night and day.

True love has to start with loving God.

Because Jesus’s love for us started there, He could not be moved.

He was not moved by temptation.

“‘Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” – Matthew 4:8-10

He was not moved by promises of power.

‘Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.’ – John 6:14-15

He was not moved by friends and people He loved.

‘From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”’ – Matthew 16:21-23

He was not moved by pain.

‘There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. ‘ – Luke 23:32-34

Even as He hung, bled and was dying on a heavy, crude, splinter-ridden cross, stripped naked, exposed, mocked –humiliated, He did not revile in return, He did not speak curses but blessings (1 Peter 2:21-23), crying out “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus was on that cross because “for God so loved the world that GOD gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And Jesus wanted for them what the Father wanted for them (John 10:15-18,15:9).

“Ok,” I ask, “I get that You didn’t want those who believed in Your Son not to perish, but what’s that got to do with the people hurting and crucifying Him?!” Jesus answers, “I’m using everything, My suffering and even My death to draw all men to Myself for the glory of the Father. Remember the centurion.”

‘So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”’ – Mark 15:39

It occurs to me, that if Jesus allowed the destruction of those who were hurting Him, we’d all be destroyed because we’re all hurting Him (Romans 3:10). But even though we’re enemies, rather than destroying us, He continually offers us the opportunity to be friends, offering us everything we need, beginning with a new heart (being born again), and patiently teaching us how to be His friend. His goal is to draw us near to Himself where He is with God, in order to reconcile us to the Father (1 Colossians 1:19-23).

Jesus love for the Father kept Him on that cross, more securely than the nails driven through His body ever could (Mark 15:29-32).

Jesus was never moved from the Father’s love for us.

And that’s the way we are called to love one another (John 13:34, John 15:12, 1 John 3:16).

True love begins with loving God with all my heart, all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength.

There is a reason this is the first and greatest commandment.

The second greatest is love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).

“And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:31

I can’t do the second without the first.

If God is love, how can I love without love? (1 John 4:7-8)

I rejoice and thank God for this revelation of the Holy Spirit, but upon seeing it, I realize “Woe is me!” It is too wonderful for me.

Frankly, I cannot do any of it unless God does it in me (Philippian 2:13).

I want to love God with everything I have. I want to have His heart so that I can love those around me with His amazing love. I want to love like Jesus, with a love that desires for people what the Father desires for them, a love that no matter what people do or no matter what comes, I am immovable (1 Corinthians 15:58).

I confess I don’t love like this and I don’t know how (1 John 1:9).

Dear Father, help me! In Jesus name I ask this. Amen (1 John 5:14-15, John 16:24).

#perfectourlove

What The Good Samaritan Teaches Me About Love

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - What The Good Samaritan Teaches Me About Love

We often think of Jesus’s Parable Of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) as a story about what it means to be a neighbor.

But in it’s complete context, Jesus teaches that being a neighbor is about loving and He uses the Parable of The Good Samaritan to give us an example of what love practically looks like.

The Samaritan did not give the man on the side of the road 5 dollars, he didn’t take him a plate of food and then left, he had compassion (Luke 10:33 σπλαγχνίζομαι – moved to a place centered in love), he loved the man as himself, and attended to the man, made provision for the man at his own expense until the man was well (Luke 10:34-35).

He entered into a relationship with this man, and continued in it as his keeper (Genesis 4:9).

I often see the need and say, “But, Lord, there are so many, the need is so great. I can’t possibly meet the need of so many.”

The problem is not the scale of the need (Matthew 14:16, Mark 6:37, Luke 9:13), but the distance of my heart from a place of love, therefore my lacking compassion, and my using the scale of the problem as an excuse to pass them by and leave them where they are (Luke 10:31-32).

My problem is I want to get back to my life –to my treasure, where my heart is also (Luke 12:34, 1 John 3:17).

But, there is no other life (John 14:6, Luke 12:15).

Life is receiving the love of Father through His Son and in like manner loving God back through loving the family of God and seeking to grow it by loving my neighbor (1 John 3:14-16).

The life I want to get back to; being successful in business, buying nice things, enjoying myself and being approved by men, is all a deception (1 John 2:16), and it is hindering me from living the true life, enjoying the true riches and being approved by God.

This isn’t just about the materially homeless and downcast. It is also about the spiritually homeless and downcast that I encounter every day at home, at work, in the course of daily activity.

They need care that Jesus has given us the capacity to give.

I repent Lord. Help me to comprehend the width, depth and height of Your love so that I may love as You love (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Enter in.

Continue.

Love until those Christ died for and now live for are well.

#perfectourlove

The Bible Is The Means, Not The End

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - The Bible Is the Means, Not The End
Photo Courtesy of Ben Lockett – Flickr

There are many people who know the Bible well but don’t know our Lord at all.

That’s a trap that is easy to fall into, especially when we make the Bible like the bronze serpent that was given to lift people’s eyes upward to the Source of their salvation (Numbers 21:5-9), a foreshadowing of Christ (John 3:14), but instead they made it into an idol (2 Kings 18:4).

The Bible is like the frame to an interdimensional portal. Even though it’s beautifully constructed, its primary value is not its physical attributes –the words on the pages, but the bridge to another dimension that it facilitates.

From before time, the Father has purposed to establish means for you to be with Him (Matthew 25:34).

God is spirit (John 4:24), intangible, and imperceptible (unless He reveals Himself, we cannot reach or know Him) and His Word is among the first means He uses to make Himself known in a physical world, in a tangible, perceptible way (that we can grasp with our senses) through the expression of His Word in the Holy Scriptures recorded in our Bible.

The Bible is not the end.
The Bible is the means to the end.
Yet, what God reveals as recorded in Scripture is vital and we cannot arrive at the end without it.

There are many doors (ideas, philosophies, religions, lifestyles, paths etc.) but there is only One that leads to life and without the benefit of what God has already revealed as recorded in Holy Scripture, you will not see it properly and will miss it.

The Bible is vital.
But, the Bible is not the end.
The Bible is the means to the end.

The Bible is the frame to the portal.

Jesus is the door (and the bridge aka The Way).

The Father and His Kingdom is the end.

We’re not getting anywhere without the Door. So, the Door is the principal thing.

To those who have been granted ears to hear, eyes to see and approach the frame (Bible) in faith, the Door will appear.

Blessed are those who can see the Door! It is a marvelous, glorious thing to see the Door!

But we must still enter in.

Receive what the invisible God made visible through the Holy Spirit so you could perceive Him –which is the frame, Scripture, which points to the Door, Jesus Christ.

ASK, humbling yourself, confessing your deafness and blindness and He will give you ears to hear and eyes to see.
SEEK, searching diligently, believing God is and the Door will appear.
KNOCK, believing what God has revealed through Scripture and in these last days what He has spoken to us by His Son who came to us in the flesh, and the Door will be opened to you.

Don’t just stand at the Door.

Don’t be like the hypocrites who

stand outside pontificating about the frame,
won’t go in themselves and won’t allow others to,
striving about words,
straining a gnat and swallowing a camel,
always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth,
putting on shows based on their fleshly interpretation of the frame,
having a form of godliness but denying its power,
flattering ourselves with vain, empty, self-serving practices of legalism.

Don’t just stand at the Door.

Enter in.

But we can’t take anything with us.

I have to leave my identity behind.

I have to leave my pursuits behind.

I have to leave my possessions behind.

I have to trust Him for everything.

As we enter in, The Way transfigures us because no flesh can enter the Kingdom of God.

As we continue, The Way becomes narrower and narrower, forcing us to put things down and take things off, until all that can pass is a pure heart and spirit before God.

Believe.
See the Door.
Enter in.

When we enter in:

stepping out on what He reveals,
continuing along The Way in obedience,
allowing Him to conform us to the image of His dear Son,
yielding everything in our lives that is not like Him for Him to cut away,
exposing ourselves to the light, confessing sin and allowing Him to cleanse us from sin;

God becomes real to us. God is spirit so the manifestation of His reality is spiritual. There is a knowing. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit confirming that we are His (Romans 4:16-17, Galatians 6-7).

What is the evidence? How do I know that it has happened?

Love. (1 John 4:12)

You will love as He defines it. It is unmistakable and unlike anything on earth (John 13:35).

I have not attained. I know only in part. I have much growing to do. So, I press.

Join me.

Don’t just know the Bible, know God.

Enter in.

Know God.

Love.

#PerfectOurLove

Ministry Begins At Home

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Ministry Begins At Home

No matter how involved in the community I am and all the good works I appear to do, I cannot glorify God if I’m neglecting my home (1 Timothy 5:8).

My ministry must begin at home because anything else is a misrepresentation of God.

Consider how the Godhead relates:

how the Father relates to the Son (Isaiah 42:1, Matthew 3:17, Mark 9:7, John 10:17-18),

how the Son relates to the Father (John 5:30, 8:29, Hebrews 1:3),

and how the Holy Spirit facilitates it all (Genesis 1:2, John 16:13-15).

They are true to Their love and commitment to each other ABOVE ALL (Deuteronomy 6:4).

THEN, They extend this inconceivably wonderful communion to others (John 17:24).

Every relationship, including Christ’s relationship to the Church, branches from that –the love They shared at “home” (John 15:9).

Love branches properly.

Love begins at home.

It’s like fire. It cannot warm those afar off without warming those nearby.

Love seeks incessantly to prosper, purify and perfect all who come in contact with the vessel carrying it, beginning at the vessel’s home (Acts 16:31).

Without that love, all else is just posturing (1 Corinthians 13).

Actually it’s worse, it’s saying God (Love) is something that He isn’t. It’s heresy.

Everything God ordains; marriage, family, ministry, reflects Him.

This informs my responsibility to my wife, children, parents -first.

Ministry of Love begins at home.

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” -1 Timothy 5:8

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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

From Judge To Father

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - From Judge To Father

God is just.

So why not just convict us of our crime and condemn us?

Jesus reveals the heart of God.

Through Jesus, God’s relationship to us changes from Judge to Father.

This is indescribably awesome and wonderful.

From before the beginning, this was God’s aim.

But to be just He must maintain justice and righteousness, to right the wrong, to exact payment for the debt, to balance the scale.

Jesus is the way He prepared to achieve righteousness and love.

Righteousness and Love.

Love.

He didn’t have to do it.

God could have utterly destroyed mankind and it would have been perfectly fitting to do so.

But not only did He prepare The Way to save us but to change our status from criminal to His child!

He didn’t have to do it.

So, what should it mean to us that He did, with such extensive planning, perfect painstaking execution and such extravagant expense to Himself?!

He didn’t have to do it.

But, He did.

I praise His holy name for it!

When we receive Him, The Way, we are given the right to be called children of God, never to be considered criminals again!

We, therefore should not reject His labor of Love but honor and respect it by accepting it and consider God as Father and never as Judge again.

Jesus said call Him, Abba, Father.

Hallelujah.

This shift from Judge to Father is huge.

God’s desire is not to punish us but to prepare us.

Like a good Father, He wants us to learn, so His work is not about letting us off the hook but putting us in a position with Himself where He can help us grow healthy and strong.

Things that happen in life can feel like punishment from a mean, angry God but that is never true for His children.

There’s discipline, but not punishment – correction but not condemnation.

Enjoy the peace of the shift Jesus achieves from Judge to Father.

Believe what Jesus reveals about God.

Know Him as Father, as His child.

Then face life with the joy, peace, confidence and resolve that affords.

‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ – John 1:12-13

‘For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” ‘ -Romans 8:15

#perfectourlove