March 29, 2023
Happy Wednesday, and happy birthday to my brother Isaac!
Our goal at The Equipped is to help you to stay aware of the world around you while remaining focused on the True and the beautiful. Together, we are always looking to identify opportunities to serve as Jesus served.
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Everyone Wants a Mama
It was a difficult decision for our daughter Hope. She had agreed to part with two of our seventeen one-week-old chicks. Though she was extremely attached to them, a neighbor had a mama hen whose hatchlings had not survived and, in her despondency, was starving herself to death. So Hope, with no small amount of mixed feelings involved, agreed to place two of our chicks under the mama hen in an attempt to revive her spirits. Now, a day later, we were gathered around our neighbor’s henhouse watching in awe as the mama hen and two chicks cooed, ate, drank, played, and cuddled. Being fairly new to this kind of thing, our family was more than a little astonished it had worked! But our neighbor, who is much more seasoned in these matters, had a very simple explanation: “Everyone wants a mama.”
Psalm 68:5-6 confirms this truth, and has a word for those of you whose longing for a nurturing family has not be fulfilled by human means. In this very intimate passage, God promises to be a “father to the fatherless,” a “defender of widows,” and, maybe most pointedly, He promises to “set the lonely in families.”
Everyone wants a mama. Everyone wants a father. I am blessed beyond expression to have loving examples of each in my life, but I am intimately aware of the reality that many of you do not have the same experience. You, my friend, are intensely dear to our God. You, my friend, are among His highest priorities. And you, my friend, are who He runs to with a promise to personally fill your longing for family. You are His chosen one.
Three nine-year-old children and three adults were killed on Monday at a Nashville Christian elementary school. The shooter, who was subsequently killed by law enforcement responding to the scene, was a 28-year-old former student at the school. While the investigation continues, law enforcement has acknowledged several details about the shooter and possible motives, including that the suspect, who identifies as transgender, may have resented attending the Christian school. Investigators reportedly recovered a manifesto and detailed written plans suggesting the attack was calculated and premeditated.
Invitation: Broken. That is the word that resonates with me. The families of these children and school staff members have to feel completely broken. We need to hold them up in prayer. Our society, and a common respect for each other, is broken. We, as followers of Jesus, need to be vessels of healing, and we need to mend wounds. What about the shooter? Again, I land on broken. My heart breaks that this evil act would pour out of a young, and clearly hurting, soul.
What are you to do in moments and situations like these? The Equipped community aims to grow in the grace of responding as Jesus would, so how did Jesus respond to those experiencing excruciating grief? The best illustration might be found in John 11, as Jesus finds His friends Mary and Martha mourning the loss of their brother Lazarus. Many of us know the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and I do think it’s instructive in that we should aim to be life-giving sources to all involved in the current tragedy. But I want us to especially note what Jesus did before that miraculous act. In John 11:35, after finding His friends hurting, weeping, and even blaming Him for not having come sooner, Jesus simply wept with His friends. He knew Lazarus would rise. He knew this was not the end of the story. But He also knew His friends were hurting, and so He wept with them.
Friends, our world is broken. We know it. We also know that brokenness is not the end of the story, and that there is way for all of us to rise from the brokenness. We must offer that way, and it begins now, as our friends are weeping. Drawing on what Jesus modeled for us, today we weep with our friends.
At least 26 people have died after a tornado roared through Mississippi and into Alabama Friday evening. The storm was just one of several intense weather systems to sweep across the United States this week, with the South being the most significantly impacted.
Invitation: Once again, we should weep with those who weep. We should pray for all those impacted. You and I should also look for ways to be the tangible hands and feet of Jesus in difficult situations. Is there a way you can provide aid to those who lost so much in these storms? Is there someone in your community who has experienced similar loss? Let’s weep, pray, and look for ways to respond with love and compassion.
A Fragile Calm
A fragile calm has returned in Israel after widespread demonstrations erupted in recent days. The public debate centers on a judicial reform plan advanced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the demonstrations were ignited when the Prime Minister fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for opposing his reform plan. In response to the unrest, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a pause of the plan and a return to negotiations over the details of the proposed reforms.
Analysis: On a human plane, the situation in Israel is a good reminder for Americans and American leaders that large structural reforms require broad public participation if they are to gain traction and have the intended impact. The incentive structure in our current political climate discourages leaders from attempting such coalition building, and we see the problematic consequences in every corner of the political landscape. If that incentive structure is to change, it will have to be driven by voters across the political spectrum. Political officials might be viewed as leaders, but human nature ensures that democratic governance is almost always downstream of public sentiment.
As Jesus followers, Proverbs 16 provides a prescient and challenging guide for how to walk this out. It says you and I should value righteousness more than personal gain (v. 8), and that results belong to God (vv. 1, 3, 4, 9, 33). And lest I fall prey to the temptation to aim for conquest of those with whom I disagree, verse 7 reminds me of the reward for walking according to His leading: “When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.”
Bread of Life
Have you ever seen a more beautiful loaf of bread?! My wife, Brooke, blends food and photography in the most uniquely beautiful fashion. It is particularly beautiful for me, because I get to consume what she creates, and this bread was as delicious as it is beautiful! As we turn now to face the world, let’s be grateful for the Bread of Life!
There is weeping all around us, and we should weep with those in despair.
There is also great beauty in our world, and we should face a hurting world from that place of beauty, and invite them into it.
You are loved by the Almighty God! Be encouraged today!
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