February 15, 2023
This week's edition of The Equipped has three stories about events that draw our collective eyes to a single event or series of events. Our prayer is that you would grow in awareness of the world around you, but that your eyes would be fixed on your Creator!
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All Talk, No Action
Many things are constantly changing around us, but some things always remain the same. Our obsession with our own voice is one of those things. Literature, dialogue, and debate should all be cherished, and it is abundantly clear that language is an incredible gift to humanity—a gift that should be honed and redeemed for the glory of God. Even so, it is a bit ironic (and maybe even humorous) to read the following from Acts 17:21 and consider it against the backdrop of our world today:
“All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.”
All talk, no value! It was a problem then, and it is a problem now. It is most certainly a challenge for me! It is so much easier to talk and debate than it is to implement and obey, and yet I dare say that none of us has come close to exhausting the exercise of the latter when it comes to the clear commands of scripture. How many of us, when we come to our deathbeds, will say, “If only I’d done and obeyed less, and talked more”? None of us, of course! But if you are like me, you often find yourself delaying obedience in favor of another round of discussion and debate.
Our faith is not simply one of words, but of action. We follow a risen Savior who chose the ultimate act of obedience to death on a Roman cross in order to demonstrate His love for us. As we face the world today, let’s commit to availing ourselves of a multitude of counselors (Pr. 11:14), but resisting the urge to lead lives that are all talk and no action.
All Eyes on the Sky - Balloons and UFOs
U.S. fighter jets shot down four flying objects over North American airspace in a span of just over a week. While one of the objects is believed to be a Chinese spy balloon, there is less certainty about the identity of the other three—they remain, quite literally, unidentified. Reports suggest one was some sort of smaller balloon, another was octagonal in shape with strings hanging from it, and the third was a cylindrical airship of some variety.
While all of that sounds like a plot from the latest Hollywood thriller, the U.S. Defense Department downplays the shootdowns, and insists they were ordered out of an “abundance of caution.” Even if that turns out to be true, the flurry of confirmed military shootdowns is unprecedented in peacetime.
In what also sounds like a movie plot line, but is in fact reality, the White House says there is “no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns.”
Analysis: This story is going to produce a sweeping range of reactions. You are likely to hear theories for everything from alien invasions and the apocalypse to a government coverup. As Jesus followers, we should maintain our sound and sober mind while also acknowledging this is a very unusual development. The existence and persistent use of surveillance tactics by the Chinese is hardly surprising, and it is certainly possible that heightened scrutiny is simply revealing additional flying objects that have long been present. It is likewise reasonable to presume other nations (Russia comes to mind) are using similar tactics to surveil. It also stands to reason that any number of hobby crafts could be venturing off course. Finally, it is possible we will never know the full truth, but if the shootdowns continue, the public’s demands for an explanation will intensify, and it will be incumbent on government officials to be transparent about the situation.
All Eyes on the Big Game - Super Bowl LVII
Approximately 183 million people tuned in to watch at least part of Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, making it one of the most watched television events in history. The Kansas City Chiefs, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, came from behind to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35. The game-winning field goal was delivered by Harrison Butker, who gave “all glory to God.”
There were a number of unique storylines within and around the game, including:
- A public appearance by Damar Hamlin, who recently suffered an on-field cardiac arrest.
- A $20 million ad buy to promote a message that Jesus “gets us.”
- Impressive displays of grace in defeat by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and cornerback James Bradbury.
Eternal perspective: In the scope of eternity, the outcome of any sporting event is insignificant. However, it is worth considering how to redeem moments where the eyes of the world are largely on one location or one event. We should all evaluate how to steward the moments, big or small, in which God assigns us a role. May we be a people who are constantly identifying ways to lift His name high.
All Eyes on God - Revival
A regular chapel service at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY began at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 8, 2023. That service has yet to end (more than 165 hours later at the time of publication).
According to numerous reports, the service is informal and organic, with no set agenda and rotating worship and prayer leaders. As the service duration stretched into days, people from the surrounding areas traveled to the campus to participate, and similar services sprouted up at other campuses.
Prayer point: God is real, and He moves in tangible ways. He has also promised, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:14).
Pray that God would grant His presence to the ongoing service at Asbury. Pray that He would also make Himself felt in tangible and growing ways in more locations around the world. Pray that you and I would be willing recipients of His abiding presence, and that our actions would be yielded to His will, and devoted to His glory. Pray that God’s people would crave His presence, and would be protected from human impulse to co-opt, hinder, or interfere with His move.
Finally, pray for three tiers of impact: 1) That your heart would be soft and receptive to receiving a greater revelation of God, 2) That those at Asbury and other locations would bask in His presence and have a life-changing encounter with their Creator, and 3) That this occurrence would be a catalyst for all of us to lead lives surrendered to the mission of glorifying our God.
You Have Value, and You are Loved
I had the pleasure this week of witnessing the beauty of both terrific fatherhood and fantastic motherhood.
A dear friend has a son who is entering those pivotal-but-often-challenging teenage years, and I had the privilege of being one of a handful of men he invited over to spend an hour of time focused on blessing and investing in his “man-in-training.” There was no magic formula, and my friend was very careful to acknowledge this was simply a recognition of a work that God is doing. However, I am confident my friend’s son will remember that day for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, my wife and girls threw a Valentine’s Day party for 13 girls ages 6-12. There were cookies, ribbons, chocolates, balloons, and hand-written cards all over the house. The girls talked, played, talked, ate, talked, giggled, and talked for more than two hours, and then went home to ride out the sugar high. But the moment I will hold on to is the moment right before eating when each precious girl heard someone they trust say, “You have value, and you are loved.” That moment was everything.
These were beautiful moments that each of us can replicate in simple ways. If you are a parent, invest intentionally in your children today. If you are not a parent, there is a child in your life who would benefit from hearing you say, “You have value, and you are loved.”
The world needs the value you offer! As you take your awareness of the events happening around you into the world, remember that the solution to the world's great need resides within you. Rather than simply pointing out the great need we encounter, let's offer the solution!
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