September 13, 2023
How does the knowledge of every good thing translate into being thoroughly equipped for every good work? That's our question in The True section this week, and it will help us navigate stories of tumult in the U.S., Mexico, Morocco, and Libya. Thank you for being part of The Equipped community!
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Every Good Thing
You and I, as members of The Equipped community, have made it a goal to grow together in the grace of being thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). One of the ways we achieve that goal is by intentionally refining our own ideas and beliefs against the purifying fire of God’s Word, and alongside fellow committed Jesus followers who have life experiences that differ from our own.
A vivid New Testament example of this dynamic is found in the book of Philemon, which is primarily a short story about three men: Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus. These men are all followers of Jesus, but they have dramatically different experiences and lots in life. Paul is once again in prison on account of his faith, while Onesimus is Philemon’s runaway slave.
We can immediately ascertain glaring needs for personal growth in at least Philemon—most notably his ownership of another person made in the image of the Creator. Slave ownership was a regular part of the cultural custom of the day, which very likely caused Philemon (along with many others) to fail to recognize the error of his ways. How much in our culture is similar? Are there things I do because “everyone is doing it?” Are there things you do because “that’s just the way it is?” It seems to me it is unquestionably so, and in Philemon’s case—and almost certainly ours, as well—it takes coming into contact with a fellow believer who has a different perspective to come face-to-face with the change that we must make (in this case, Paul asks Philemon in verse 16 to receive Onesimus as a brother rather than a slave).
The description of this concept in Phil. 1:6 sums up this challenge nicely: “I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.” It is so similar to our overarching goal in 2 Tim. 3:16-17. If we are to be equipped for every good work, we will need to grow in our understanding of every good thing we share in Christ, and that will require living as partners in faith with fellow Jesus followers!
This is really just a very specific example of the admonition we find in Proverbs 27:17 to allow iron to sharpen iron in our life. It sounds so easy, but in order to experience the refinement intended, we must, a) have absolute fidelity to the authority of God’s Word, and b) exercise humility by learning from each other. I dare say these two habits are anything but the cultural norm! If we will yield to God’s Word and to the input of fellow believers that is consistent with that Word, we will grow in the knowledge of every good thing and be all the more equipped for every good work!
Mexico Supreme Court Decriminalizes Abortion
Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled that national bans on abortion are unconstitutional, and has invalidated all criminal penalties for obtaining or performing an abortion. As a result of the decision, all public and federal health facilities in Mexico will be required to perform abortions. While there are still some state laws restricting abortion, the ruling is binding to all states and likely a precursor to the elimination of many of those laws.
Analysis and eternal perspective: The Supreme Court of Mexico is moving in the opposite direction of the U.S. Supreme Court, which just last year struck down the nearly 50-year-old precedent in Roe v. Wade, effectively allowing states to again regulate and restrict abortion. It is highly likely both countries will have a considerable amount of additional litigation on the issue in the years ahead.
As Jesus followers, this is an area ripe for service, and our biblical mandate of service is clear: We are to provide loving care for the needy (Pr. 19:17), the vulnerable (Ps. 9:9), the widow (Ps. 68:5), and the orphan (Jam. 1:27). Whether the laws in your country are moving to more robustly recognize the humanity of our Creator’s work in the womb (Jer. 1:5) or trending in the opposite direction, you are invited into the beautiful work of honoring life, and caring for mothers and children.
There are countless ways to begin. Whether it be adopting, becoming foster parents, giving financially to those who are adopting or fostering, or even meeting the tangible needs of those in your community who take placement of a foster or adoptive child, there is a way for you to serve! Ask God where it is that you are meant to participate in this joyful endeavor!
Note: Serving in this space has been one of the greatest blessings of our family’s life. If you don’t know where to begin, I invite you to consider adopting from foster care or giving to a family who is doing so at afearlesslife.org.
Quakes and Floods in North Africa
Nearly 3,000 people are confirmed dead after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, as well as damaging aftershocks, rocked Morocco. Multiple nations are participating in the search and recovery efforts, and it is expected the death toll will rise considerably. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Moroccans have a lengthy recovery and rebuilding process ahead of them.
Meanwhile, intense flooding in Libya has taken the lives of approximately 2,000 people, with around 10,000 still missing. Intense rain led to the failure of two dams, which caused floodwater to wipe out numerous towns and villages. The death toll is already the second-largest from a flood event in North Africa since 1900, and it has the potential to be the largest flood disaster during that period by the time the rescue and recovery efforts are complete.
Eternal Perspective: As we pray for the people of Morocco and Libya, and as we consider tangible ways to support their recovery efforts, we are yet again reminded that life on Earth is but a vapor (Jam. 4:14). We should live in a way that is constantly mindful of eternity—both for ourselves and for those around us. May we devote ourselves to openly sharing the gift of everlasting life that is offered through faith in Jesus Christ.
Coerced Free Speech Violations
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has partly upheld a lower court ruling by finding the White House and multiple federal agencies likely violated the First Amendment rights of Americans by coercing social media companies to censor or limit posts on controversial topics. The ruling, which can be read here, came after social media companies yielded to directives from the administration to suppress certain perspectives on the COVID pandemic, election integrity, and Hunter Biden.
The Fifth Circuit’s ruling upholds the lower court's order prohibiting the White House, Surgeon General, CDC, and FBI from contacting social media companies for the purpose of discussing content moderation. It lifts the same prohibition from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Department of State.
Analysis and eternal perspective: Our founders knew the critical importance of protecting every individual’s freedom of speech and opinion. The First Amendment enshrines strong protections of these God-given rights, and specifically protects them against infringement by the government. It is a nearly universal trait of governments of men to gradually—or sometimes swiftly—absorb rights and freedoms that belong to individuals.
As Jesus followers, we should work to ensure that all people, as God’s created, are able to live with robust freedom (Gal. 5:1). We should also work to guard against infringement on those freedoms—especially when those infringements are advanced by leaders of our own political stripe (as they will inevitably be).
Last week, we admired the beauty of honey in the comb. This week, we stop to notice the amazing bee as it pollinates a beautiful flower, producing growth and flourishing as it works.
May our community have a similar impact. May our lives cause growth and flourishing in those around us, even as we go about our daily activities!
Remember to stand on God's Word and surround yourself with fellow believers who share a commitment to the authority of God's Word. Be sure to include those who bring different experiences to the table. Let's strive for the humility to embrace refinement, and thereby be equipped for every good work!