January 25, 2023
Happy Wednesday! We're so glad you are here! Our goal at The Equipped is to provide a concise and easy-to-digest way to stay aware of the world around you while remaining focused on the True and the beautiful. Welcome, and please forward to a friend!
Murder, Fear, and Persuasion
The plot could easily be from a blockbuster major motion picture:
- A young and charismatic leader threatens the most influential people of the day, and is murdered with the approval of another young and charismatic leader who later has a dramatic change of heart.
- The new leader is understandably feared and viewed suspiciously by allies of the murdered leader.
- An unlikely hero uses his power of persuasion to win acceptance of the new leader.
It sounds like a movie, but it is the book of Acts. Stephen, a follower of Jesus, is rapidly gaining influence, and he is murdered because of it. The murderers have a man named Saul literally watch over their belongings while they kill Stephen, and Saul supports their killing him (Acts 7:58; 8:1). Afterward, Saul is dramatically converted to a follower of Jesus, but is understandably feared and distrusted by other Jesus followers until a man named Barnabas convinces them Saul is now an ally (Acts 9).
Questions to consider:
- Am I threatened by new followers of Jesus?
- Am I slow to overcome suspicions of people who find Jesus?
- Is it possible the next move of Jesus will come by way of my fiercest enemy? If so, will I be persuadable? Will I be willing to persuade on behalf of my once-enemy?
Leak Not Found
In a 20-page report, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it has not been able to determine who leaked a preliminary draft of the landmark opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade opinion regarding abortion.
While the underlying decision itself is incredibly important, this report detailed the conclusions of the Court’s attempt to uncover who improperly leaked a preliminary draft of the decision more than seven weeks before it was formally rendered. The Court typically operates in a strictly confidential manner during the deliberation and opinion drafting phase. This dramatic departure from that norm has raised questions across the political spectrum about the Court’s credibility and independence.
Analysis: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ability to serve as the court of last resort for the United States is dependent on its integrity and ability to operate as an independent and co-equal branch of government. The Court is, by design, both informed by the political process (through the appointment and confirmation of new Justices) and resistant to shorter-term political influences (through lifetime appointments). It is critical to the Court’s longterm credibility that this type of leak be prevented.
More Documents; New Chief
It was a full news week for the White House. First, in what now seems like a daily occurrence, another search of President Biden’s home turned up a new round of classified documents. In what is being described as a unrelated development, Jeff Zients (of White House Covid Task Force and bagel shop acclaim) is replacing Ron Klain as White House Chief of Staff.
Outside the White House, former Vice President Mike Pence also uncovered classified documents at his Carmel, IN residence.
Analysis: President Biden rejects the suggestion these discoveries of classified documents are similar to those made at President Trump’s home. The truth is there are countless similarities. Both the President and the former President downplay their own possession of classified documents, and amplify the other’s possession of them. Neither President, nor the former Vice President, should possess information beyond their legal authority to do so. Pr. 11:1 says, “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.”
As for the personnel change at the White House, it is typical for senior staff to turnover (President Trump had four Chiefs of Staff during his term). Even so, there are few positions as influential as White House Chief of Staff, and Klain’s departure is not likely to silence questions about his role in the improper handling of classified documents.
There were three significant shootings in California in a span of less than 48 hours earlier this week. At least 19 are dead, and many more injured after the California communities of Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay, and Oakland were targeted by separate shooters. Authorities have one suspect in custody while another died of self-inflicted wounds. Investigations are underway to determine additional suspects, as well as a motive for each killing spree.
Eternal perspective: Horrific acts like these are certainly evil, and they are also clear signs of brokenness. We grieve with, and pray for, the families who have had loved ones brutally killed. We should also look inward to more fully realize the urgency with which we must share the reason for the hope that lies within us (1 Pet. 3:15). Sin has broken the perfection of God’s creation in each of us, but He has made a way for that brokenness to be made whole again. Events like these should be catalysts that reinvigorate our witness. Our broken world is in desperate need of Jesus.
Can You Imagine if I Didn't?
Every day, he swept up the leaves. Every day, more leaves fell. Every day, I drove past on my way to work and wondered why he bothered. One day, I finally stopped to meet him and ask. I greeted him as I approached, and asked his name.
“Al,” he responded.
“Good to meet you, Al,” I said, “but I’m curious, why do you do this every day when you know more will fall even before you are finished?”
A twinkle came to Al’s eyes and he responded, “Can you imagine if I DIDN’T do this?”
Let’s be like Al. We can’t fix everything. But there’s plenty we can do with even the smallest amount of effort. Let’s choose a little bit of service every day and watch the impact add up!
The "news" can paralyze us with fear, but the Good News is liberating and transcendent! As we work to stay aware of the times, let's remember to do so in a way that does not captivate us, but rather with an aim to offer that which will redeem those around us!
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