November 8, 2023
The clocks have been turned back, and the early sunsets make it feel like winter! This week we consider the end of times, and how we should be preparing today! If you haven't already, check out the podcast version of The Equipped and invite a friend to join us!
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Preppers and Prepping
The end of all things is near.
If you are a “prepper,” you are now locked in with me, and if you are not, you may be rolling your eyes. But those are not my words. Those are the words of the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 4:7, and it is the context for that apocalyptic exclamation we are contemplating today.
Let’s first zoom out for context, and then zoom back in for application.
Peter’s context for warning about the end of times is one of explaining why Jesus went to the cross for us. The first few verses of 1 Peter 4 describe that Jesus “suffered in his body” in order that you and I could be “done with sin.” Peter says that those who go on sinning will be “surprised that you do not join them.” This is really part of a larger theme from Peter’s writing, and it undergirds why he calls followers of Jesus “peculiar” in 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV).
The bottom line context is this: You and I are meant to live different. Don’t be surprised when this plays out in real life. It won’t always be understood by those around you, but it is by design, and it is for the purpose of preparing you for this moment when the end of all things is near.
So the context is that you and I are peculiar. You might bristle at that description, but I resemble it!
Now let’s zoom in and apply it to our lives. What is it that we are to do with this understanding? Now that we are set apart and prepared for being seen as peculiar, how are we to live out of that preparation? Let’s read it directly from our passage:
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:7-8).
This will definitely be different than what we see around us! As we explore the headline news in a moment, every inclination will be to act against this instruction. But we must be rooted in the fact we are set apart and different specifically because, as the end draws near, those around us will need something to anchor them.
They will need someone who is alert, and clear-thinking.
They will need someone who prays and seeks God’s face.
And perhaps above all, they will need someone who loves them deeply. They will need someone who loves them across disagreement and strife. That kind of love covers a multitude of sins.
But it is here we remember the context of Peter’s challenge, for it is my sin and yours that needs covering, and it was our Jesus who went to the cross to provide that covering.
So as we turn to consider the happenings in our world, let’s do it from a place of deep assurance, with clear minds, and as a people who fervently seek God’s face and, in turn, love one another deeply. How beautifully peculiar!
Then There Were Five . . . or Six . . . or . . .
There are expected to be five candidates on the stage for the third GOP debate of the 2024 presidential cycle on November 8: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N Amb. Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott. The debate will be held in Miami.
Former President Donald Trump also presumably qualified, but will again opt to hold his own rally during the debate. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Vice President Mike Pence participated in the second debate. However, Gov. Burgum appears to have not qualified for the debate (joining a list of others who are running, but not qualified for the debates), and former Vice President Pence recently withdrew from the race.
Analysis and eternal perspective: There will be five candidates on stage, but of course neither party’s frontrunner will be present. On the Republican side, conventional wisdom says it is risky for former President Trump to skip the debate. Then again, Trump has never been a conventional candidate. On the Democrat side, President Joe Biden appears to be on his way to the nomination. In both cases, however, the candidates are surely aware that the defining characteristic of recent presidential cycles is to expect some unexpected twists along the way.
As The Equipped community, we will continue to be grateful for the blessing of self-governance. It is certainly messy at times, but it is also a blessing that stands in stark contrast to most of human history. As Jesus followers, we will embrace the often-difficult tension of competing for truth in the marketplace of ideas (Eph. 4:25) while prioritizing a deep love for one another (1 Pet. 1:22; 4:8).
If you are like me, you sometimes get frustrated with the messy process of self-governance. Take heart! The approach we are embracing together will stand out from that process, and will ultimately impact things far more significant than any election result.
As war continues to wage between Israel and Hamas, there are several updates worth noting:
- The Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah is openly praising Hamas for attacking Israel.
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel, and U.S. President Joe Biden encouraged strategic lulls in the fighting to provide opportunities for civilians to flee.
- While Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed a willingness to allow civilians an escape, he reiterated there would be no ceasefire without the releases of Israelis held hostage by Hamas.
- The U.S. House, in its first major act since electing a Speaker, approved $14.3 billion in funding for Israel, offsetting the cost with cuts to funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS cuts, along with the exclusion of proposed funding for Ukraine, makes it unlikely the current bill will pass the U.S. Senate, and caused the White House to oppose it.
Analysis and eternal perspective: War is terrible. But even within war, there are some clear moral distinctions. For example, it should come as no surprise that the Iranian terror proxy group Hezbollah lauds the violent attack launched by Hamas. Further, it would be an abdication of sacred responsibility for Israel to abandon its insistence that hostages be released. The merits of the details of these diplomatic maneuvers—including how U.S. support is structured—are less clear, but it is important we not lose sight of the underlying fundamentals.
As Jesus followers, we at The Equipped will continue to remind ourselves of a few basic principles:
1) The Jewish people are God’s chosen people (Deut. 7:6-9).
2) Every person is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26).
3) Authorities have a sacred duty to protect those within their charge (Rom 13:4).
4) The actions of world powers, including the United States, have an impact.
Taking the Stand
Former President Donald Trump took the stand in his own defense this week, as the civil fraud case against him once again took center stage. The case centers on a previous finding that the Trump Organization improperly valued its assets in order to receive favorable tax, insurance, and financing treatment.
Eternal perspective: It is impossible to fully untangle the political drama from the legal proceedings in this case. As we often remind each other here at The Equipped, should you find it beneficial to spend time learning about the facts in any of the cases pending against the family and associates of either President Biden or former President Trump, it is critical to read source documents from each side of the case. These are far more likely to produce a firm understanding of both the charges and the defense than would a reading of any commentary—including from The Equipped—surrounding the cases.
It is for that reason we focus on an eternal perspective, and on how to remain on mission even in the midst of great division and chaos. You are I are regularly reminding ourselves to view all things through the lens of “the True and the beautiful.” This is good opportunity to remember our source of inspiration for that phrase:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philip. 4:8).
The end of all things is near, but our God has provided for our every need, and has lavished His blessings upon us. Take notice of your many blessings today, and let them spur you to add just a bit more beauty into the world!
God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8).
Thank you for being part of The Equipped family! Live with power, love, and a sound mind!