November 1, 2023
Do you remember the wonder of your youth? Today in The Equipped, we are going to recall that mystery, as well as explore the truth that God uses both the young and the old to bring about His glory! And just for good measure, we're going to mix in a chicken and a cat. Thank you for being a part of the family!
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Just a Number
“Josiah was eight years old when he became king” (2 Chron 34:1).
It is easy to read right past that opening line of 2 Chronicles 34, but stop and think about it for a moment. What were you doing when you were eight years old? As for me, photo albums of my youth paint a picture of an eight-year-old with too-tall socks and a baseball glove constantly in hand. They bring back fond memories, to be sure, but I can assure you this—I was anything but prepared to be a king! Something tells me your eight-year-old self was also something short of royalty-ready!
To be honest, that’s really the point with Josiah, as well. He wasn’t prepared to be king, either! In fact, we learn a few verses later (v.3) that he didn’t even begin to seek God until he was in the eighth year of his reign. Of course, because of his ascension to the throne at such a young age, that still meant he was just 16, and the passage says he sought God “while he was still young.”
Josiah’s example is hardly isolated. David, Daniel, and even Jesus—just to name a few—were thrust into weighty places at a tender age. As our pastor reminded us this week, Bezalel is believed to have been just 13 when God called him in Exodus 31 to design and build the temple! I would have never chosen a 13-year-old for that task. But God sure did!
This principle of God defying the perceived boundaries of age holds true on the other end of the age spectrum, as well. Genesis 21 tells the familiar story of God using Abraham and Sarah to conceive “in [their] old age” and thereby fulfill a generational promise. In modern times, I’m personally inspired by the large number of overwhelmingly successful businesses (think McDonald’s and Home Depot) that were started by people in their 50s or older.
Sometimes the most impactful truths are incredibly simple in concept, but difficult to walk out. This is one such truth, and it is one that every member of The Equipped community should take hold of today:
Whether you are 8 or 108, God wants to use you.
Paul’s first letter to Timothy says it this way, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Tim. 4:12). The full thread of scripture makes it clear this principle applies to every point on the age spectrum—no matter your age, God desires to do a work in and through you!
Let’s walk in this Truth today: In God’s economy, age is just a number, and He can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20)!
A 48-hour manhunt following the deadliest shooting in the state of Maine’s history ended when the 40-year-old suspect was discovered deceased from a self-inflicted wound inside an unlocked shipping container. The attack, which took 18 lives and is still under investigation, occurred in Maine’s second most-populated city, Lewiston. Law enforcement has indicated there is a “mental health component” to the investigation, but a motive is still undetermined. The victims ranged in age from 14 to 76.
Analysis and eternal perspective: There is no “making sense” of this horrific violence. There are, however, some ways for us to respond. While the manhunt was still underway, I visited with my friend Carmen LeBerge on her Faith Radio morning show. Before our conversation, Carmen was talking with Pastor Dan Church, who ministers in Lewiston. As I listened to the pastor reflect on what his congregants and the community around him was going through, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a primary reason we gather as The Equipped community—the purpose of identifying needs around us to which we can carry the power and love of Jesus.
I am more and more convinced that God’s design of us includes an aim of close relationship in local community. I am equally convinced it is very easy to be overwhelmed by the constant (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) and worldwide nature of our news consumption. We were made to go into all the world and preach the Good News, yes (Mk. 16:15)! But we are supposed to live our daily lives in a way that priorities the needs of our neighbor (Mk. 12:31).
As I listened to Pastor Church, it was abundantly clear that his community needed comforting. It was also abundantly clear that Pastor Church was in a better position than I to provide that comfort. After all, it was his community! He knew these families. He loved these families. While my heart breaks for them, I only knew what I had read.
The main point for us today is this: We should pray for, and even seek out ways to help, those who are hurting in Lewiston. That is absolutely true. But there are also people hurting in your neighborhood. There are those in need of comfort on my street. Have we noticed? Because those are the people we have relationship with, and the people for whom we can make the greatest difference.
So as we pray for, grieve with, and seek out ways to help the hurting in Lewiston, let’s commit anew to living intentionally connected to and aware of those we are best positioned to serve—our neighbors.
Turkey Backs Hamas
In what has the potential to spark a significant escalation in the war between Israel and Hamas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Hamas “is not a terrorist organization,” and is in fact a “mujahideen” seeking liberation of its people. Erdogan’s remarks run counter to those from a wide swath of world leaders who have identified Hamas’ actions targeting civilians as acts of terrorism.
Analysis and eternal perspective: Turkey is a NATO member—though its actions of late have created strain in that relationship—and Erdogan’s comments carry with them significant risk of emboldening Hamas and its allies. Alliances can be very revealing about the character of a government or a movement, and that is certainly true for Hamas, which was already backed by Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
The creation of a moral equivalence where there is none is never helpful. Every human being is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and we should grieve with equal sincerity over the loss of civilian life in both Israel and Gaza. That does not, however, make the Hamas targeting of civilians morally equivalent to the loss of civilian life that occurs when Hamas intentionally embeds with civilians. It is a difficult tension, to be sure, but it is a distinction with significant moral implications.
As Jesus followers, we are called to carry comfort to a hurting world. The ongoing war in Israel and Gaza is causing pain and grief for many in your neighborhood. Make it your mission this week to be aware of those being impacted, and to intentionally serve and comfort them.
Winnowing and Growing
The 2024 presidential field is winnowing . . . and growing.
On the Republican side, several lesser known candidates (who have not qualified for any of the debate stages) have withdrawn in recent weeks. This week, however, marked the first exit of a candidate who has been participating in the debates, as former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his campaign. It appears that at least six remaining candidates will qualify for next week’s third debate, though frontrunner and former President Donald Trump is not expected to participate.
On the Democrat side, the field is moving in the opposite direction—it is growing.
Congressman Dean Phillips (MN) announced he is challenging President Joe Biden for the nomination. Phillips’ candidacy faces an uphill climb, as he is not a household name, there are no primary debates planned, and incumbency of the White House carries with it significant advantages. Despite these challenges, the Congressman expressed a desire for new leadership in the Democrat Party, and is certainly correct that political surprises have become something of a norm in recent presidential cycles.
Analysis and eternal perspective: These are the natural machinations of a presidential election cycle. There is almost exactly one year until the general election, and President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have what appear to be insurmountable leads in their respective primaries. However, it is stating the obvious that an enormous amount can change over the course of a year.
Our first goal as followers of Jesus should be to carry ourselves through this campaign season in a fashion that brings honor to His name. The pages of scripture are full of people called to public service, or to positions of influence with those who are leading. But Jesus modeled for us a radically revolutionary way to carry out that service. Jesus was magnetic. He was full of charisma, and he constantly attracted a crowd. And yet, he humbled himself to wash the feet of His disciples, and of course ultimately to death on a cross.
It is such a privilege to live in a place where the people self-govern. Scripture clearly confirms that God will sometimes call His people into places of influence in order to bring glory to His name, and rescue to His people. It is equally clear from the example of Jesus Himself that we are to lay down our lives for our friends (Jn. 15:13).
It is hard to overstate how radical an idea this is, and how directly it will fly in the face of the cultural forces around us. Perhaps that is why we are the ones called to it. Perhaps that is why it just might make a radical difference in our world.
The Mystery of God
The unknown is where the mystery of God abides. So gather that adventuring spirit of your youth, pull together a friend or two (maybe even a chicken and a cat) and make your way into the mist! Beauty and wonder await!
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