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Council over Counsel - January 24, 2024

Published about 1 month ago • 7 min read

January 24, 2024

Viewing all things through the lens of the True and the beautiful!

The True

Council over Counsel

“God, I’m here. I’m yours. I’m listening.”

It has become a habit to pray that prayer multiple times a day—before I begin my day, before an important conversation or meeting, or even just when I feel impressed to listen quietly for God’s voice.

You might consider adopting a similar habit. The words do not have to be the same, and in fact the most important part of the habit is not what is prayed, but what happens next: Listening! Over the course of the last year or so as I have built this habit, God has been so faithful to whisper in those moments as I listen for His voice after having asked Him to speak.

God does not need our invitation to speak, or course. However, scripture is full of reminders that He desires our invitation of His presence. Even more exciting, God promises to be there when we call on Him! Proverbs 8:17 says it this way: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” Wow! The God of the universe loves to be loved by you, and He will readily be there when you look for Him!

These two promises are particularly reassuring in times of turmoil or conflict. You might be looking around your world and feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to steward your ambassadorship of Jesus. May I invite you to establish a habit of asking God to speak, and then quietly pausing to listen for His response? You are welcome to use my words if it helps you establish the habit.

Listen to the inspiring way Jeremiah describes this habit: “But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?” (Jer. 23:18). The context makes Jeremiah’s question even more powerful, as he is describing what will separate true prophets from false prophets.

The thing that separates the two is simply which one finds its origin in the council of God.

Stand in the council of God today. The counsel (verb…i.e., “advice”) of God is powerful. You and I should heed it. But the council (noun…i.e., “legislative body”) of God changes everything. Standing in the council of God means to surrender all authority to Him and what He will say to you. It means ceding the direction of your life and actions to Him and trusting Him to guide you. There is tremendous power in the counsel of God’s Word. But there is transcendent authority in the council of God's Word!

Get a word from God in and for your life today! Stand not only in His counsel, but also in His council!

If I may be so bold, I suggest one of the best ways to do this is on your knees. Make no mistake, you can certainly do this with eyes wide open in the middle of a crowded arena too. However, when it is possible, there is something powerful in physically assuming a posture of surrender as you seek the council of God. In fact, in my experience, there is no better way to stand in the council of God than to kneel before Him and say: “God, I’m here. I’m yours. I’m listening.”



The Campaign Trail

There are a flurry of updates from the campaign trail:

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign ahead of the New Hampshire primary. The Governor’s exit leaves just two national candidates for the GOP presidential nomination: former President Donald Trump and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
  • Although former Ambassador Haley swept the six votes cast in Dixville Notch—the first-in-the-nation location to cast votes—former President Trump went on to win the New Hampshire primary with 54.5 percent of the vote to Haley’s 43.2 percent (with 91 percent of the vote counted). Next up is Haley’s home state of South Carolina on February 3.
  • President Joe Biden was not on the ballot for the Democrat primary in New Hampshire (due to a party decision to grant South Carolina first-in-the-nation voting status), but he won the contest anyway, garnering 51.5 percent of the vote as a write-in candidate (with 89 percent of the vote counted). There does not appear to be any serious challenge to the President’s nomination, with both Congressman Dean Phillips (19.8 percent in New Hampshire) and author Marianne Williamson (4.7 percent in New Hampshire) providing the only nationwide opposition.

Analysis and eternal perspective: The election season will be long and is very likely to lead the news from now until the general election in November. The primaries, however, may be essentially over soon. There is always a very real caveat in politics that momentum can dramatically change without notice, and that could still certainly be the case. The current trajectory, however, is set toward a rematch of the 2020 presidential election between President Biden and former President Trump.

Jesus followers have a unique opportunity in this moment in history. So much of the energy around this story will be divisive. We have an opportunity to contrast that division with the love of Jesus, and to do it across lines of difference and disagreement (sounds a bit like Jesus, doesn’t it!).

We frequently remind ourselves here at The Equipped that the freedom to engage the democratic process, and even to debate and dissent, is a beautiful blessing of liberty. Even so, the thing that will set you apart this year, and the thing that will best allow you to be an ambassador of Jesus in this divisive season (our verse below calls you ‘royalty’ and invites you to speak with wisdom into the events of our day) is to love well and genuinely across lines of difference.

Candidly, what an amazing moment to be alive and to have the opportunity to walk out your faith in such a tangible way! Let’s do it!

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14).


Supreme Activity

The U.S. Supreme Court is in the midst of a very busy term, and this week was no exception.

First, in a brief and unsigned order narrowly decided by a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled the U.S. Border Patrol is permitted to remove razor-wire fencing that has been installed by the state of Texas along portions of the U.S. border with Mexico. This case is the latest in a long line of disputes between the federal government and the state of Texas over how to secure the U.S. southern border.

Next, the Court heard arguments about what is known as the “Chevron doctrine,” which is precedent from a 1984 case that gives federal agencies wide latitude to interpret federal law. If Chevron is struck down, agencies will be required to implement the law with far more specificity to the enacted language of the law. The Court’s opinion is likely to be rendered in a few months.

Analysis and eternal perspective: Rule of law is a fundamental pillar in a constitutional republic like the U.S. So too is the principle of federalism, which carefully limits the power of the central government and reserves undelegated powers to the people of the various states (expressed clearly in easy-to-understand terms in the Tenth Amendment).

It is not always easy, however, to clearly separate lines of jurisdiction—be they lines between the federal government and a state, or lines between branches of the federal government. It is tempting to ignore these “in the weeds” debates, but in truth they sit at the center of what it is to be “self-governed.” It is important to be familiar with the underlying law, as well as how the various components of government are administering that law.

As Jesus followers, we are called to respect our authorities (Romans 13). We are also instructed to actively participate with wisdom for the purpose of advancing truth, justice, and flourishing for our neighbors and communities (Esther, Daniel, Joseph, and many others provide biblical examples to follow).


Congress Still in Limbo

Congress has once again moved from one deadline to another without any significant change or reform in spending. The most recent “continuing resolution” funds part of the federal government through March 1, 2024, and the remainder through March 8, 2024. As a result, a similar debate and legislative action will need to take place in just five weeks.

Meanwhile, negotiations continue on two issues—U.S. border security and U.S. aid for Ukraine—that have become politically linked. It remains to be seen whether a deal that can pass both legislative chambers can be struck on either issue, but it is likely that a deal on one of the two issues cannot pass without a deal on the other.

Analysis and eternal perspective: Self-governing is challenging in general. Legislating is specifically challenging, especially in divided government and with slim majorities in each legislative chamber. Additionally, because the current political posture tends to reward partisanship and punish collaboration, an election year brings more of the former and less of the latter. The power to change this dynamic, should a change be desired, rests with the people.

You, as one of The Equipped, can be prepared for the year ahead by understanding this dynamic, and by keeping your eyes and your life’s aim on the author and the finisher of your faith (Heb. 12:2). The blessing of liberty that is self-governance comes with volatile terrain. But your eternity is secure and cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28), so you can walk with confidence even in an election year, and you can offer that confidence to those around you!

The Beautiful

In from the Cold

It has been a snowy week on our home front, but there’s nothing quite like coming in from the cold to a good old fashioned mug of hot chocolate! This week, stop and take time to eat, drink, and fellowship with a friend!

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet. 4:8-9).

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