June 14, 2023

It is another jam-packed news week in our world, which means it is yet another prime opportunity for us as The Equipped community to live from a posture of service, and to consider the happenings of our world through the lens of the True and the beautiful. We're so glad you are here!

The True

Rooted in Love, Filled with Power

Power and love go together.

Last week, we contemplated how and why true love always originates with God. This week, we build on that with Paul’s words to the Ephesians: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit . . . And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power . . . to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:16-18).

Most of us profess a desire to lead a life marked by power, and we have an innate desire to love and be loved. But I’ve often neglected to appreciate how these two pursuits go hand in hand.

Because God loves us, He strengthens us with His power. When we are rooted and established in that love, we have power.

Because we are filled with His power, we are able to grasp the vastness of His love—both for us and for those we are called to.

Power without love is destructive. Love without power is impotent. In order to lead lives of power, we must be filled with His love. In order to receive His love, and in order to impart His love, we must live from His power.

You are loved today with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). That love is wide and long and high and deep. If you will be rooted and established in that love, your life will be marked by a power far greater than your own.

Power and love go together. Let’s choose to walk in both today!


Another Indictment and Arraignment

Former President Donald Trump has been indicted and arraigned again, this time on 37 charges relating to alleged improper handling of records and classified material. The 49-page indictment was filed by special counsel Jack Smith, approved by a grand jury of citizens, and unsealed for the public to read. It includes 31 charges under the Espionage Act related to the willful retention of national defense information, and six additional charges related to improper handling of records, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and false statements. The special counsel gave a brief statement encouraging citizens to read the full filing, and reminding Americans that the former President is to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Analysis and eternal perspective: As you and I have previously done together here at The Equipped, let’s approach this story in a way that will be different from most considerations of it. Let’s do our best to fairly review the facts on their face, the potential motives and narratives of those involved, and most importantly our role as Jesus followers.

First, the facts. This part of the equation should be straight-forward, but will not be heeded by many. If you or I choose to form an opinion and/or speak out on this story, we should do so after informing ourselves of the facts. You can begin that process by reading the indictment for yourself. It is 49 pages, and it spells out with a good deal of specificity what is alleged. As we’ll cover momentarily, this is simply the first step in considering the facts.

Next, the motives and narratives. Rarely in history have we seen a public figure who generates such intense feelings among both supporters and critics. This has created an environment where supporters are disinclined to consider the possibility of any wrongdoing, and critics are inclined to justify any means by which to achieve their desired end. Both of these inclinations lead to a place well outside the American promise that nobody is above or below the law. On the one hand, virtually every President in recent history has struggled to comply with record-keeping requirements, but none has been charged with a crime. On the other hand, it is not automatically true that the facts in this case are the same as those previous cases. If we are to be honest brokers, we will need to consider the full picture—the facts of the current case, the precedent derived from both the similarities to and the differences between previous mishandlings of records, and the new precedent being set by an administration in power prosecuting its leading opponent. If we follow this rubric, it will be far easier to navigate—and largely avoid—the avalanche of commentary that is well underway.

Finally, and most importantly, our role as Jesus followers. As we’ve discussed before, if we are to make sense of this situation, we will need to put into practice Proverbs 18:17: “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross examines.” It is highly likely you have a well-formed opinion of former President Trump. Your ability to navigate this situation with a Christ-like attitude will depend on your willingness to consider the arguments of those who hold the opposite view. If you are to engage this story on a deeper level, you should read for yourself both the indictment and the forthcoming response from the defense. You should acknowledge that even a former President is subject to the law, but also that a sitting President has a duty to administer the law indiscriminately. Most critically, all of us as Jesus followers should work together toward a more perfect union while resting in the reality that we are first and foremost joint citizens of heaven. This is a challenging circumstance, but we can navigate it together.


China is Spying

China has been spying on the U.S. from Cuba since at least 2019, according to multiple reports. While it is not particularly surprising that China has robust spying efforts aimed at the U.S., the multi-billion-dollar partnership between China and Cuba represents a particularly significant escalation of these activities just off the American mainland.

Analysis and eternal perspective: In an earthly sense, China has given Americans every reason to distrust its activities. Whether it be surveillance, online tracking of children, or the theft of intellectual property, China has earned our wariness.

In an eternal sense, we should be even more mindful that all of our actions are known to God. “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17).

We should be vigilant against a foreign incursion on our privacy. We should also live uprightly and transparently before our God.


Alabama's Election Maps Struck Down

The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Alabama’s newly drawn congressional map, finding that it violates Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The ruling, which was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and issued by a 5-4 majority of the court, will force Alabama to draw a new map before its next election.

Analysis and eternal perspective: Our federalist system gives states primary authority over elections. The federal government has, however, absorbed a larger role in recent decades, and this dynamic has caused increasing conflicts between state law and federal law. While this particular case centers on whether, and to what extent, race should be a factor in the drawing of election maps, it is worth paying attention to the broader issue of an increasing federal role in elections.

As Jesus followers living in America, we are blessed with the liberty to grapple with and debate the most effective methods of self-governence. As we do so, we should strive to display the character of our God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).

The Beautiful

Flowers in Rain

This week, we look through the lens of Brooke’s camera to find a flower in the rain, and a beautiful poem about the same by Lucy Larcom:

Is it raining, little flower?

Be glad of rain;

Too much sun would wither one;

It will shine again.

The clouds are very dark, it’s true;

But just behind them shines the blue.

Are you weary, tender heart?

Be glad of pain:

In sorrow, sweetest virtues grow,

As flowers in rain.

God watches, and you will have sun,

When clouds their perfect work have done.

The "news" can paralyze us with fear, but God's love frees us to live with power! Thank you for being a part of The Equipped community. Please consider supporting our work, and forward this email to a friend (or several) and invite them to subscribe!

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