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Gentle Giant - February 7, 2024

Published 23 days ago • 7 min read

February 7, 2024

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


The True

Gentle Giant

My friend Chad met Jesus face to face last week. Chad was my roommate for five years before I was married, and from my human perspective he was far too young (50) to die. There is no way to assuage the reality that his absence is painful, but I find great solace in the fact he is with Jesus, his suffering is no more, and that he made such great effort in his final days on Earth to reach out and express his heartfelt love to so many. Both my final phone call with Chad and our final text exchange ended in mutual expressions of our love for each other. I know the same to be true for so many of his other friends, as well, and it is an immense gift and comfort to each of us.

Chad was a gentle giant, and stood physically taller than just about everyone. But as I listened to eulogies and memories of Chad, the thing that stood out most was his gentleness. In a world defined by hostility and aggression, Chad made his mark through gentleness and humility. He spent much of his career investing in the poor and needy, but it was his demeanor toward people—as individuals with worth and dignity—that was the recurring theme in his remembrances.

Chad’s service gave me cause to consider what it is that enables the character quality of gentleness to emerge in a person. God’s Word is clear we are to be gentle. In fact, it is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), and Philippians 4:5 says our gentleness should “be evident to all.”

But we live in a world that is hostile to gentleness. There is no use parsing words—the atmosphere of our world is toxic. It just is. We make a weekly point here at The Equipped of landing on something beautiful, but we do it not because it is the default setting of our world, but rather because beauty is what we want to offer to a world desperately lacking it!

There is so much at which to point the finger of blame, and I am so often the one pointing. To be sure, we have a role to play as watchmen in our society, and to be on guard against things that threaten to harm our souls (Ez. 3:17; Hab. 2:1).

But when the identification of all that is toxic around us becomes itself our identity, we lose the capacity for gentleness.

Chad was gentle not because he lived in a gentle world. Far from it! Even setting aside the challenging industries and situations he took on professionally, Chad spent the final year of his young life in a body being ravaged by disease, and in the midst of that struggle, he had to bury his mom. No, Chad’s world was not gentle, and a part of me bursts with anger over just how cruel his world was in his final days.

But Chad was gentle because the hostile world around him was not the source of his being. Had he drawn his strength and his inspiration from the toxic atmosphere of his world, he would most certainly not have been gentle. The toxins of his world would not have allowed it.

But Chad chose for his intakes to be those not found in this world. He chose to reach past those toxins in the atmosphere that captivate so many of us, and to instead draw on the beauty and gentleness of Jesus.

Chad’s world was hostile. But he was gentle, because his life was built on the rock of Jesus. If you want to know gentleness and beauty amid a world of hostility, you can find it—just as Chad did—in surrender to Jesus. He invites you to come to Him with your burdens, and promises to give you rest in the midst of the hostile world around you (Matt. 11:28). If you want someone to walk with you as you take that step of surrender, please reach out to theequippednewsletter@gmail.com.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29).


U.S.

Money Matters

There were at least two developments this week that are likely to eventually impact your personal finances:

1) Amid news of several other legislative items hitting partisan roadblocks (related story to follow), the U.S. House of Representatives found a rare reason for bipartisanship and overwhelmingly approved a measure to provide tax relief for business investments and families with children. The measure passed 357-70, but now must be approved by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Biden in order to become law.

2) The Federal Reserve, led by Chairman Jerome Powell, announced that the federal funds rate, which impacts the interest rate available to new borrowers, will remain unchanged at its upcoming meeting. Some market observers were expecting a cut in the rate for the first time since early 2022.

Analysis and eternal perspective: As Jesus followers, we are instructed to lay up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20), but also to be wise and prepare for what is ahead (Pr. 21:20). Earthly gain is not our goal, and it will all vanish in the blink of an eye. It is, however, prudent to be aware of the financial forces that impact your family budget.

In the case of the tax bill, many business owners and families with children would have a lower tax burden if the bill were to be enacted. Meanwhile, while the federal funds rate does not immediately translate into the rate you would pay on, for example, a home mortgage, it does eventually impact the cost for securing a loan. It is expected, though not guaranteed, that the Federal Reserve will begin reversing the rate’s two-year trend upward in coming months.

As you demonstrate wisdom by budgeting responsibly, you can rest in the reminder of Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”


U.S.

Stalemate

The list of legislative items and actions facing a stalemate in the U.S. Congress is growing:

1) Senate negotiators have released a long-awaited “deal” to address the security situation on the U.S. southern border as well as provide aid for Ukraine, Israel, and other international situations. The deal ran into strong opposition before it ever really gained traction, as several Senate Republicans announced their opposition to the bill and U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson called the legislative package “dead on arrival” in the U.S. House.

2) Given the complications with the bill above, the U.S. House decided to consider a standalone bill to send nearly $18 billion in aid to Israel. However, similar to the larger aid package, the proposal faced stiff headwinds from the moment it was proposed, and ultimately failed to achieve the 2/3 margin needed to pass on the House floor. Opposition came from conservative Republicans who called for offsets to the spending, and from Democrats who heeded President Joe Biden's promise to veto any standalone bill to fund Israel without including funding for Ukraine or the U.S. southern border.

3) The U.S. House moved to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but the measure failed by a vote of 214-216 (the vote was 215-215, but one Member changed his vote in order to reserve the right to recall the vote). As we have covered here at The Equipped, the articles of impeachment accuse Sec. Mayorkas of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust.” There was one GOP Member absent from the vote, so it is likely the vote will be recalled at some point.

Analysis and eternal perspective: The good news is that governing in a constitutional republic with checks and balances is designed to be cumbersome. The bad news is that cumbersome governing can be frustrating, time-consuming, and divisive.

As Jesus followers, these moments of legislative stalemate should be reminders to focus on our ultimate mission of being ambassadors for Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20). While we also have the privilege of playing a role in our own self-governance, our ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Phillip. 3:20), where God will make all things new (Rev. 21:1-8). What a wonderful promise on which to stand!


U.S.

Pineapple Express

Southern California, including many densely populated areas, is experiencing one of the most significant storms in the region’s history. High winds combined with heavy rain (some areas have experienced rain at a rate of approximately a foot a day) are causing widespread flooding, mudslides, and power outages. Northern California, while less densely populated, was also hit hard earlier in the week as the storm, dubbed a “Pineapple Express,” moved to the south.

Analysis and eternal perspective: Upon what foundation are you building your life? A story like this one brings to mind Matthew 7:24-27, where Jesus uses the illustration of a storm with rain, wind, and flooding to communicate the importance of rooting our lives on a foundation that can withstand even the most intense storm.

Although Jesus was speaking in parable, the lesson could not be more literal. If you and I root our hope in and on things of this world, those hopes will surely be dashed. In some cases, they may be dashed by a storm like this one, but in every case they will cease to survive into eternity. But by “building on the rock”—which means rooting our hope in things that are eternal—we protect it against all the forces this world can bring against us.

Practically speaking, millions of people are being impacted by this storm. We as The Equipped community should be holding them up in prayer this week, and we should also be mindful of practical ways to assist. If you have friends or family in the region, check in on them. If you feel compelled to give to a relief effort, heed that prompting. In a physical sense, there is little as disconcerting as being displaced from your home, and you can be the hands and feet of Jesus through something as simple as offering comfort during this time of need.


The Beautiful

Fertile Soil

There is such beauty in the soil. But the true magic is in what springs forth from it! As you walk through the week ahead, may you view your interactions with the world as an investment in what is to come, and may your heart be ever softer like fertile soil.

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Lk 8:15).



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