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Spies, Legends, and Expulsions - December 6, 2023

Published 3 months ago • 7 min read

December 6, 2023

This week in The Equipped, we explore a mixture of human achievement and shortcoming, and the wonder of a God who maintains His great love for us in the midst of it all! Thank you for being a part of the community!


The True

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken

“Well done, good and faithful servant.” Those words from Matthew 25:21-23 rang in my ears as I sat in the funeral service for my grandpa a couple years ago. They were the words that felt most fitting after a life of devotion to Jesus and to the churches Grandpa pastored for many decades. They are also the words you and I can look forward to hearing ourselves one day as a result of the work Jesus completed for us on the cross. What a glorious assurance!

There is a second glorious phrase we as The Equipped should consider today, and it is found in Jeremiah 31:3, where God proclaims, “I have loved you with an everlasting love!”

This proclamation is made in the aftermath of great turmoil and suffering, and it is God’s intimate expression of undying love for His people.

Our stories today include a mixed bag of life legacies, as the people within them experience both astonishing achievement and stunning failure. In reality, that is true for each of us, even if not in as public a forum as those in our stories today. Each of us has moments when we shine, and all of us have moments of failure, as we fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). It is within that mixture of success and failure that our God finds us and unabashedly proclaims His unqualified and unending passion for us!

It can be difficult to reconcile these two truths. Is it your “doing” that will earn you accolades of “well done” upon your arrival in heaven, or is it God’s unconditional love for you in an imperfect state that transcends your shortcomings? I think the truth in these seemingly juxtaposed truths lies in the order we consider them.

God’s everlasting love is offered to us in our still-fallen state. His perfect love pours over us not because of a job well done, but because His love is so intense it overwhelms our unworthiness. From that place of receiving unconditional and unwarranted love and acceptance, we have the privilege of serving God out of what He has bestowed upon us. While our service can never fully reflect the intensity of His great love, it is that reflection of His devotion back to Him that He most desires, and which forms the substance that will be considered on the day we stand before Him.

It will not be our works that earn the accolades. It will be His works and His great love that we have had the privilege of reflecting back to Him!

So today, receive without hesitation His over-the-top passion for you! The God of the universe is madly in love with you!

Then, reflect that deep love back to your Creator in the form of devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do so with a light and joyful heart, because that day is coming where the God who loves you with an everlasting love will proclaim, “Well done, my beloved, well done!”


U.S.

Cuba Spy

Victor Manuel Rocha, a 73-year-old former U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia and National Security Council official, has been arrested and accused of operating as a high-level spy for the Republic of Cuba for more than 40 years. Upon announcing the arrest, Attorney General Merrick Garland described Rocha’s actions as, “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent.” Prosecutors allege that Rocha’s espionage began no later than 1981, and continued until the moment of his arrest. During that time, Rocha held numerous positions at the U.S. State Department and was stationed internationally on multiple occasions.

Analysis and eternal perspective: When a U.S. citizen accepts and assumes a position of responsibility in the U.S. government, he or she takes a solemn oath to defend the U.S. Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic, and pledges allegiance to that Constitution. It is a solemn and sacred oath that should not be taken lightly, and one that Victor Rocha pledged many times over. While he will have his day in court (if the U.S. justice system is to be effective, every defendant in it must absolutely be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty), it is alleged that he violated that oath in dramatic and repeated fashion. The primary beneficiary of Rocha’s alleged spying was none other than the Communist Castro Regime.

As a Jesus follower, our primary devotion and allegiance is to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are countless examples in both biblical history (think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3) and secular history (think of the Ten Boom family’s defiance of the Nazi order to betray the Jewish people) of the necessity to prioritize this allegiance over any earthly allegiance.

Even so, the Bible is clear about the sacred duty to honor the oaths we make. Numbers 30:2 says, “If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” In previous positions of trust, I have taken an oath similar to the one Rocha is now accused of violating. We should take very seriously the charges against him, and he should have a full opportunity to make a robust defense. If, at the end of that process, he is convicted, his crimes warrants serious consequences.


U.S.

The Passing of Luminaries

The United States this week mourned the passing of two history-making individuals: Sandra Day O’Connor and Henry Kissinger.

O’Connor, 93 at the time of her passing, was the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, a post to which she was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. In remarks honoring O’Connor’s life and service, Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged her 645 total opinions, and the fact that O’Connor described herself as, “a cowgirl from the desert.”

Kissinger, 100, was a dominant and controversial figure in U.S. foreign policy during the second half of the twentieth century, and an influential voice in the twenty-first century until the time of his death. He was Secretary of State under both Presidents Nixon and Ford, and was awarded—with no small amount of controversy—the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his role in ending the Vietnam War.

Analysis and eternal perspective: Life on Earth is short. Both Sandra Day O’Connor and Henry Kissinger lived fascinating lives, and their stories and achievements will be remembered long after their passing. Even so, your life and mine are but a mist on the wind (James 4:14). This fact is both a bit sobering (time here on Earth is short) and at the same time beautifully liberating (let’s seize the days and spend our time on that which lasts into eternity).

What will be written about you when God calls you home? The temptation is to answer in the form of what will be in your obituary or the news paragraph announcing your passing. But the truth is this: If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ as your savior, the most important thing that will be written about your passing has already been written, because your name is recorded in heaven (Lk. 10:20, Philip. 4:3)!


U.S.

Expelled

George Santos is now just the sixth person to have been expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives, after his colleagues voted 311-114 to remove him from the elected legislative body. The move to expel Santos picked up steam after he was indicted on 23 federal charges and the U.S. House Ethics Committee released a comprehensive report, both of which allege Santos repeatedly misused campaign funds for personal purposes.

Analysis and eternal perspective: While the evidence against Santos appears to be overwhelming, he is entitled to the presumption of innocence in a court of law, which is where the adjudication of his alleged crimes will occur. This presumption of innocence is not, however, guaranteed as it relates to his seat in Congress. Article I of the U.S. Constitution gives the Members of the U.S. House final authority on who is and is not seated in the legislative body. That said, the expulsion of Santos does set new precedent, as the previous five expulsions included three Members accused of siding with the Confederacy during the Civil War, and two Members who were convicted of crimes in a court of law. Santos is the first post-Civil War Member to be expelled prior to a legal conviction.

We as The Equipped community regularly remind ourselves to heed Proverbs 18:17 and consider all the facts on both sides of a case before rendering judgement (even in our hearts). However, just as the standard for expulsion from the U.S. House is different than that required for conviction in a court of law, we should be mindful that the standard for our support of a candidate for office should be different than the standard we apply in a judicial setting. We are reminded in Luke 6:45 that the fruit in a person’s life is directly connected to what is stored up in their heart. If we desire good fruit and flourishing to flow from our elected leaders’ actions, it will be important to seek out those whose hearts reflect that which is True and beautiful.


The Beautiful

Common Beauty

The beauty of God’s creation is all around us, if we will just take notice. Chickens make their way into Brooke’s photography more than occasionally because, well, we think they are beautiful! Meet Budder—Bud for short. She is our son Jude’s favorite chicken, and she’s definitely a beaut!

What “common” thing in your world can and should speak of God’s majestic beauty? Be intentional today about noticing the beauty in what is too often seen as insignificant.


Don’t forget to check out the broadcast version of The Equipped on Faith Radio or wherever you get your podcasts. As you interact with the world this week, remember that you are loved with an everlasting love!


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