February 8, 2023
The Equipped is growing! If you are new to the community, welcome! We hope these weekly emails help you stay aware of the world around you while remaining focused on the True and the beautiful. You can read more about The Equipped, and we also invite you to consider joining the team as a paid subscriber. Let's jump in to this week's edition, and don't forget to forward to a friend!
|Subscribe for Free!|
Speak in the Daylight
“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.”
Those were the words of Jesus to the disciples in Matthew 10:27 as He commissioned them to channel His power and take His message out into the world. The entire passage is packed with priceless instruction, but let’s take this one to heart today.
First off, I will likely only hear God whisper in my ear in the dark of night if I intentionally meet Him in that place. Yes, God can speak to us in many ways, including dreams and visions, but in my experience, the reason God promises to reveal Himself to us in moments of quiet is because He craves our regular communion with Him. He desires that we prioritize our time with Him, and He rewards that kind of commitment with His voice. So be available to Him in the dark of night, or in whatever prioritized moment can afford you the stillness to hear His voice.
Next, what is God telling you that He might be asking you to share with the world—or at least those around you? Each of us should have a personal and unique relationship with God, and plenty of what He says to us is meant just for us. But what is He telling you in the quiet place that He desires you to speak out into the daylight? Who are you supposed to reach with the message you’ve heard in the still of the night, but have yet to share with a broader audience? What is the King of the universe trying to say to others through you?
Spend time in the dark of your prayer closet today and every day. Listen intently for His voice. When you hear it, ask Him who He intends to reach with the Word He has spoken. Then step into the daylight of the rooftop, and boldly proclaim what He has said.
The State of the Union is . . . Debatable
President Joe Biden delivered the annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening. As has become the norm, the speech was met with vastly different receptions by proponents and opponents of the President.
Tuesday’s speech focused heavily on economic themes and touted the recent reduction in the unemployment rate. It was given against a political backdrop that anticipates the President will soon announce he is running for reelection.
Supporters of the President will surely echo his message of an economic resurgence, while opponents will question the President’s rosy outlook on the economy, especially as record inflation continues to squeeze household budgets. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave the GOP response and called for a new generation of leadership.
Analysis: State of the Union addresses are often filled with political wish list items, most of which will never be enacted. This week’s speech is likely no different. Even so, followers of Jesus would do well to listen a layer deeper than just the policy proposals advanced. We should seek out the very real need that exists within each issue discussed. The truth is that lasting solutions to the issues we grapple with as a country don’t originate in Washington, D.C., but in the hearts and lives of individual citizens, and especially within the mobilization of Jesus followers. Whether we agree or disagree with a President, it is our job--and privilege--to carry God’s love and grace to the hurting.
More than Just Hot Air
A Chinese air balloon—presumed to have surveillance capabilities—was shot down by a U.S. fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday. The military action was taken only after the balloon traversed over the entire width of the continent, including portions of Alaska, Canada, and a vast swath of the lower 48 U.S. states. The Chinese government acknowledges ownership of the balloon, but claims it is for civilian weather-related research—a claim U.S. officials view suspiciously.
President Biden authorized the shoot-down, but said he declined to act sooner out of concern for the safety of those on the ground. U.S. officials are now attempting to recover debris from the balloon, which is scattered across a portion of the Atlantic Ocean, and will work to glean more information about the balloon’s purpose from the wreckage.
There are reports that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has used this tactic with some regularity, though this week’s flight appears to be the most egregious known incursion into U.S. airspace.
Analysis: The CCP has a well-documented history of using subterfuge to gain an intelligence advantage over the U.S., and it is reasonable to assume this incident fits that description. The U.S. certainly has a national security interest in protecting its airspace, especially against an incursion by an often-adversarial power like China. Decisions about when and how to shoot down threats like a surveillance balloon are fraught with peril—both in terms of intelligence and physical safety. We should expect our elected leaders to take these threats seriously, and work to prevent future incursions. We should also expect that they focus more on the national security threat than on keeping score of how many incursions occurred on each administration’s watch.
Tragedy in Turkey
A significant earthquake shook central Turkey and northern Syria early Monday morning, and resulted in early reports of nearly 8,000 dead—a number that is tragically all but certain to increase. The quake registered a magnitude of 7.8, and was followed later in the day by more than 100 aftershocks, including one that registered a magnitude of 7.5. Survivors and rescuers worked to uncover those trapped in the rubble, as well as administer aid to the wounded, but those efforts were complicated by freezing temperatures and precipitation.
Prayer Point: This tragedy comes at an extremely high cost in terms of human life and suffering. Pray for the families of the deceased, as well as for the injured and those working to respond with aid and comfort. Pray about ways you can—directly or indirectly—be a source of aid and comfort for those suffering. Also, this is but the most recent reminder that life is fleeting. We are citizens of heaven, and we should live with a constant eye toward that eternal destination. It is this posture toward heaven that will make us the most indispensable and valuable for Kingdom causes here on Earth.
What Time Does She Hope to Swim?
Our kids had a big swim meet this past weekend, and this week’s glimpse of The Beautiful comes from a simple act of kindness shown me by a parent of one of the other swimmers. As our youngest daughter waited in line behind the starting blocks to swim her heat of the 50 Free, the dad next to me asked a few simple questions:
“What’s your daughter’s name?” (“Hope.”)
“What heat is she in?” (“16.”)
“What time does she hope (no pun intended) to swim?” (“She’d like to beat her best time of 39.24 by at least a second.”)
I proceeded to get the same information about his daughter, who was swimming in a later (and therefore faster) heat. But what stopped me in my tracks is what this dad, with whom I had exchanged only a few words, did next. He proceeded to cheer his lungs out for my daughter (whom he had never met), and then celebrate as though she’d won Olympic gold when her personal best time posted on the scoreboard.
I was thoroughly grateful for this act of kindness in the moment, but it was not until later that it struck me how often we can emulate this form of kindness to those around us. How often are we in a similar kind a holding pattern (there’s nothing quite like wave after wave of swim meet heats, but we can all relate to the dead time experienced in line at the grocery store, the DMV, or waiting for a sporting event or school activity to begin)? What if, like this dad, we made it a point in those moments to notice what would bless someone around us, and then simply spent something that costs us nothing in order to impart that blessing?
I dare say both their world and ours would grow just a bit more beautiful as a result.
Much about the "news" is outside our control. However, we have control over both how we take in that news and how we act out in response. Let's form our interactions with the world based not on whatever is happening "out there," but rather from an outpouring of what He is doing in us. No matter what the times bring, our God is greater, and His power is deposited in His people. But we are meant to be conduits, not simply repositories. We are the way God reaches people with His power. Pass it on!
If you find The Equipped valuable, please consider joining the team!
|Join The Equipped!|