Bad Love

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Bad Love

Hardly anything is more destructive than a bad definition of love.

We do more harm to each other in the name of what we think is love than we do with hate.

At least with outright hate, it’s clear who the enemy is so you can avoid them or defend yourself.

But, I find that most of the harm that people suffer, and the most devastating came at the hands of people we thought were for us and who were actually well meaning (to the extent of their ability), sincerely thinking they were loving when they were doing the opposite.

Examples:
A guy who claims he loves a girl but is defiling her.

A parent who thinks they’re loving a child but is actually teaching them to hate themselves.

A person who think they’re helping the disadvantaged but is only further setting them back.

Me doing something that feels good or seems good that makes me worse off.

Etc.

But, Jesus came so we’d have an accurate definition, to teach us Love that “does no harm”.

If you want to know how to truly love: yourself, your spouse, your child, your family, your friends, your neighbor, God, look to Christ.

“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Matthew 6:23

#perfectourlove

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

Perfect Our Love Triangle

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Perfect Our Love Triangle

A weapon is not any good if you don’t know how to use it.

I’ve previously shared what I refer to as the Perfect Our Love Triangle.

It emphasizes the Father’s love for us and Jesus’s love for the Father which results in Jesus’ love for us.

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

The aim is to be conformed to Jesus’ image and reflect His example by focusing on God’s love for us that allows us to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, which results in us loving others -who God loves in the way that He loves.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” -1 John 4:10-11

How did God love us?

He spared no expense, to the extent of willingly suffering, being humiliated and allowing us to kill Him, for the purposes of saving us from what’s hurting us, to remove everything that’s separating us (which is the same as what’s hurting us -sin)and reconcile us to Himself that we may be together and have life abundantly and safely in Him.

I heard a great quote last night from Dr. Andy Brown, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Starkville,

“Jesus loved lavishly in so many ways. The cross is the greatest, most unimaginable expression of love we’ve ever seen. But, He would have gone farther.”

And, God does.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” -Romans 8:32

So, how am I to love others?

To focus on God’s love for me, to stand firmly in the love of God by loving Him with everything I am and have, and to spare no expense to draw others into that love, seeking to destroy everything that is between me and them, that we may be together and have life abundantly and safely in Him.

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” -Ephesians 5:1–2

When do I use this?

The Sunday School answer is “always” and that is correct but what does that look like practically in real life.

I take instruction from a recent fight with my wife. A useful cue is anger.

Whenever, I feel anger or an unpleasant emotion toward someone, it should trigger remembrance of this triangle.

First, remebering God’s love for me in that Jesus has paid for all sin -not for mine only but for the whole world (1 John 2:2).

I don’t (and shouldn’t) have to make them pay (Matthew 18:21-25).

That switches my approach from debt collection to compassion, and instead of dealing with someone on the basis of what I believe I’m owed, I can deal with them on the basis of what I can give which is admonishment and edification about how we can more effectively walk together in a way that does not cause offense and that produces more love.

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32.

I honestly didn’t mean it to be -God’s timing, but as we celebrate the Passion of Christ on this Good Friday, this is the message of the cross, God’s unsearchable love for us, Jesus’ perfect demonstration of that love and the high calling for us who believe to take up our cross and follow Him.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” -John 3:16.

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

“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'” -Luke 9:23.

#perfectourlove

Salvation Requires Pinhole Accuracy

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Salvation Requires Pinhole Accuracy
Photo Courtesy of Ronnie Dankelman – Flickr

Salvation requires pinhole accuracy. Get it wrong and we die.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who is leading us to a place that requires unimaginable skill as a shepherd and leader to get us to.

He alone can lead us to this place: ¹

the only place where there is good pasture and life, ²

the place that if we don’t get to, we will perish. ³

It is through a Door that requires pinhole accuracy to navigate to.

That Door is Jesus, Himself. ²

The Door is not broad through which anything and everything can fit. ⁴

Rather the Door is very narrow. ⁴

There is an incredibly specific Jesus we must go through.

It’s not the Jesus of how we think He would be, or the one that we want Him to be, or the one of our politics, but it is the real Jesus that came in the flesh, who died for our sin, who was raised from the dead and now lives before God forevermore. ⁵

Finding that Door, let alone getting through it is impossible, it’s like getting a camel through the eye of a needle. ⁶

But, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27

The kingdom of God is at hand. Humble yourself. Repent and plead to God to help you. Expose yourself to His Word.

If He grants you ears to hear, the Chief Shepherd will appear.

Follow Him, alone. ⁷

He will get you there. ⁸

As a pastor, I am merely an under-shepherd and my one job is to keep your eyes on the Good Shepherd and direct you in His path. ⁹

Follow Jesus, alone. ⁷

He, alone, will get you there. ⁸

#perfectourlove

¹ John 10:7-8, Acts 4:12
² John 10:9
³ John 3:16-19
⁴ Matthew 7:14, Luke 14:13
⁵ Revelation 1:18
⁶ Luke 18:25, Matthew 16:17
⁷ Matthew 23:10
⁸ John 10:27-30
⁹ 1 Corinthians 11:1

Jesus Goes Hard

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Jesus Goes Hard

This is me some days.

A lot of days, actually.

Struggling to get myself together and out of bed because I don’t know where I’m going or if where I’m going is worth the trouble.

But, Jesus goes hard.

He’s driven.

His goals are not like our goals.

He didn’t leave heaven to acquire houses fit for the cover of “Southern Homes and Garden” or for a certain lifestyle. Jesus said,

“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” – Luke 9:58

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:28

And to the point of daily discipline, He said,

“I must be about My Father’s business.” – Luke 2:49

Jesus left heaven and got up everyday because of His love for and dedication to the Father.

But, I’m not so enraptured by a feeling of love for the Father that it propels me out of bed every morning. Many days I’m not excited. Many days I don’t feel like it.

“Lord,” I say, “I’m not there yet. Help me.”

And, He did. This is where He teaches me. Jesus says,

“Not My will, but Yours [Father] be done.” – Luke 22:42

Simply put, action in loving obedience is not a product of desire but decision. This is what Jesus demonstrates here.

I have to do, not based on what I’m feeling but based on what I’ve decided based in loving obedience to Him. His Truth and His Spirit give me that capacity. It is an appropriate application of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

But, I’m right. I’m not there yet. So, I have to “exercise myself into godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7).

It’s not about daily motivation, it’s about daily discipline.

I have to do what I don’t want to do in loving obedience until it simply becomes what I do because obedience has become part of me. Thus, “exercising myself into godliness.”

I feel it’s also important to observe that Jesus did not move aimlessly. Hebrews 12:2 says that, as our example, as the one who ran the first race and set our course –as “the author and finisher of our faith”, Jesus endured pain and suffering “for the joy that was set before Him.”

Jesus was not pressing toward a thing –an achievement or an event.

Jesus was pressing toward a state, “the joy” –abiding in the pleasure of the Father.

“And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” – John 8:29

That “abiding” is in a continuous tense, meaning, it’s not just something that will happen in the future. In Jesus’s case, it always was, it will always be and it is right now.

His pressing was not for Himself, abiding with the Father was His natural state. His pressing was for our abiding.

“Father, I desire that they also who You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” – John 17:24

So, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

Therefore, I seek to go forth *abiding* more so than *doing*, having God’s heart to see people loved: seeing them delivered from the death of sin, given life through the knowledge of Him by the face of Jesus Christ and that life nurtured by His manifold grace through us in service.

I seek to go forth abiding, Him being a part of everything that I do.

It’s strange. That state, “abiding”, both results from and results in “always doing those things that please Him.”

So, if I’m not enjoying an abiding with Him, the answer is “doing those things that please Him” (loving people: making Him known, serving, etc.).

And, when I’m enjoying abiding with Him, the result is “doing those things that please Him.”

Love is “doing those things that please Him.”

Consider 1 John 4:12-13,

“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”

Love is “doing those things that please Him” and it is how we abide.

Love is how we experience God.

And, that’s the joy: being with God.

Love is how it is done.

Jesus goes hard for it.

Then, so will I.

So, I press.

#perfectourlove

Endgame

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Endgame

The endgame of the Christian faith
is not personal state, ¹
it is becoming One in Love. ²

Love draws near. ³
So, my goal is His goal, to draw near to you.

Therefore, I:
labor first to be found in Christ, ⁴
then lift Him up (which draws peoples to Him), ⁵
and make war against the sin that attempts to separate us. ⁶

Love is The Power. ⁷
Life is its product.

Personal state: peace, joy, fulfillment and other good things are byproducts of living according to His purpose. ⁸

Receiving the God of Love is the primary thing. ⁹
Love is the process. ¹⁰
Life is the proof. ¹¹

¹ Matthew 20:25-28
² John 17:20-23
³ Ephesians 2:11-13
⁴ Philippians 3:7-11
⁵ John 12:32
⁶ 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
⁷ 1 John 4:16
⁸ James 1:16-17, 1 Corinthians 12:31, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
⁹ Proverbs 4:7, Mark 12:29-31, John 6:29
¹⁰ Matthew 22:37-40, 1 Corinthians 16:14, Romans 13:10
¹¹ John 1:4, John 10:10, Luke 6:43-44, 1 John 2:6 John 4:14

#perfectourlove

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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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