Welcome to The Equipped!

Standoff - January 31, 2024

Published 30 days ago • 7 min read

January 31, 2024

Viewing all things through the lens of the True and the beautiful!

The True

Groaning and Praising

All of creation is groaning. A quick look around the world, the country, or even your neighborhood will confirm this truth. God’s creation is beautiful and magnificent, but the evidence of our separation from God is evident all around us. Romans 8:22 aptly describes this dynamic as, “creation…groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

You likely need no convincing on this point. You know it is true. You see it all around you. You feel it in your spirit. Our world is groaning. It is straining. It is longing to be restored.

But did you know that groaning and praising go hand in hand? And did you know that Jesus gave you, as His follower and the pinnacle of all creation, the primary responsibility for that praising? It is true!

In Psalm 19 (which I encourage you to read in full, and mediate on, today), we read that the same created world that has long been groaning also constantly proclaims God’s glory and greatness. Here is just a sample of that rejoicing:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Ps. 19:1-3a).

They have no speech. They use no words. And yet their voice goes out into all the earth!

How does something without speech or words have a voice that reaches into the whole earth? And yet, this concept was reaffirmed by Jesus himself when the Pharisees chided the disciples for loudly singing praises to God. Jesus responded to their pious rebuke with a reminder that the praise of God cannot be held back; “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Lk. 19:40).

God’s name will be praised. And if necessary, it will be the groaning earth that sings out that praise. But here is where it gets personal.

The stones do not have speech. But you do. The stones do not have words. But you do. The stones will sing God’s praise if they must. But you were made to sing God’s praise. You were given speech and words, and you were given those gifts because it is you who is designed for the very purpose of praising amid a world that is groaning.

The prophet Isaiah communicates this concept beautifully: “The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise” (Is. 43:21).

You were made by God and for God. His praise does not require you—the stones stand at the ready. But it is you who possesses the perfect tools to praise! You feel the earth groaning. Respond to that groaning today with the praise for which you were designed!


Standoff and Impeachment

The standoff continues between the United States and the state of Texas. Last week, we covered the U.S. Supreme Court’s order allowing the federal government to remove razor-wire fencing installed by Texas along the U.S. border with Mexico. Texas Governor Greg Abbott responded with a statement of his own, declaring the U.S. government to be in violation of its constitutional duties, and declaring and invoking “Texas’s constitutional authority to defend and protect itself.”

Meanwhile, also as a result of the situation on the southern border, the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to consider articles of impeachment for Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. The articles contain two counts and seek to remove Mayorkas for willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law and breach of public trust.

Analysis and eternal perspective: This debate is getting intense. As is our habit here at The Equipped, if this is a story you are going to interact with on more than a surface level, you will benefit from reading for yourself at least the following foundational source documents:

- Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution

- Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution

- Governor Abbott’s statement responded to the U.S. Supreme Court order

- Articles of Impeachment against Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas

In addition to the documents above, there will be filings by both sides in the ongoing court case that will help you grasp the arguments being made. This might seem overwhelming, but while this is not an easy situation to resolve, you will find much of this information easy to understand (as we often say, the Founders gave us a great gift in the accessibility of the language in our Constitution).

It is likely we will not all agree on every aspect of this dispute. However, it is critical for the preservation of a constitutional republic for the citizenry to understand the duties for which both the federal and state governments are responsible. The bonds of this arrangement have been tested before, and the continued strength of them depends on each side respecting and stewarding the authority granted to them.

As Jesus followers, we would do well to interact with this story in a way that is informed and restorative. This story involves very challenging circumstances for people from all walks of life (immigrants, Texans, U.S. citizens). For those of us living in the U.S., it is critical we remember first our biblical mandate to care for the vulnerable, while also stewarding well the enormous blessing of liberty we have been given. It will not be easy, but it is worth it!

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Lk. 12:48).


Iranian Attacks

Three Americans were killed, and dozens more injured, in Jordan when Iranian-backed militia conducted a drone strike on a U.S. military installation. It was the first such attack on American personnel in Jordan since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, though there have been more than 150 similar attacks in Iraq and Syria, and the attack in Jordan is the first to claim American lives. President Biden said the fallen soldiers are “brave souls,” and vowed the United States “shall respond.”

Analysis and eternal perspective: We have been discussing the threat from Iran-backed militia here at The Equipped for some time now. Iran has openly sided with Hamas after the brutal attacks and kidnappings carried out by Hamas on October 7, 2023. While this public allegiance includes specific support for the recent attacks, it is simply the latest in a long line of Iranian support for terror and violence. It should come as no surprise to the rest of the world, and the attacks are certain to continue as long as they are permitted.

As Jesus followers, we should mourn with the families of the fallen, and lament with the families of the wounded. We should also be a voice of defense for the oppressed and a bulwark against what is certain to be continued attacks. Romans 12 and Isaiah 1 give us a good framework to begin to walk out these instructions. The Romans passage reminds us to mourn with each other and that vengeance belongs to God, while Isaiah clearly calls us to stand up for the oppressed.

This is a challenging balance to be sure. We can start by reminding ourselves that God’s heart is that all would be drawn to His side. Even so, His justice is not to be ignored, and we can trust that evil will not go unpunished. We can confidently heed these two instructions by sharing in the grief of the fallen and lending our voice in defense of the oppressed.


New War Fronts

The war between Israel and Hamas now has many fronts. There were two significant and related developments this week.

First, Israeli intelligence shared evidence indicating that at least a dozen employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) participated in the October 7, 2023 attacks on Israel. UNRWA is supposed to be responsible for many of the United Nations’ humanitarian missions, and these allegations, which U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described as, “highly, highly credible,” bring into question the agency’s ability to continue in that role.

Next, officials from the U.S., Egypt, and Qatar met in Paris to negotiate for the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas. The negotiations produced a proposal for the full release of hostages, but Hamas rejected it and demanded a full ceasefire.

Analysis and eternal perspective: As Jesus followers, we should work for peace and desire to be at peace with all men, whenever possible (Rom 12:18: Heb. 12:14). Peace, however, does not mean allowing evil and violence to go unchallenged.

When Hamas invaded Israel, it committed unspeakable acts, including the killing of innocents, rape, and kidnapping. Every person involved, including U.N. employees, should be held accountable for their actions. Further, these acts by Hamas and its allies carry with them consequences as Israel and the world respond. Just as Hamas initiated these horrors, it must now initiate the way forward by releasing those they hold hostage. No nation would accept something less than the return of all innocent citizens taken.

As we at The Equipped prepare for what is ahead, it seems clear Hamas is not interested in diplomatic efforts, and it is highly likely that nations who are serious about accomplishing the return of the hostages will increase the pressure on Hamas in other ways. It will be up to Hamas to respond accordingly.

Psalm 126 is a great comfort as we grapple with this issue. Let us pray together that the Lord will restore the fortunes of Zion, and will once again fill their hearts with dreams, laughter, and joy (Ps. 126:1-2).

The Beautiful

Upside Down

Life has a way of getting topsy turvy. But the Gospel is upside down, as well. God uses the weak to conquer the mighty, He elevates the humble over the proud, and He turns groaning into praises!

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are” (1 Cor. 1:27-28).

Don’t forget to check out the broadcast version of The Equipped on Faith Radio or wherever you get your podcasts!

Share with friends, get fun rewards!

Invite your friends to try out The Equipped by using this unique-to-you referral link, and earn fun rewards when they subscribe!


Facebook Twitter Email

PS: You have referred [RH_TOTREF GOES HERE] people so far

See how many referrals you have

Welcome to The Equipped!

We invite you to read through our archives below, and don't forget to sign up to have The Equipped delivered straight to your inbox each week! It's free!

Read more from Welcome to The Equipped!

February 28, 2024 Viewing all things through the lens of the True and the beautiful! Subscribe for FREE! Pay if you want--or don't! Podcast The True Converts Over Convicts I love to win. Even as a young boy playing backyard baseball, I loved to win and I hated to lose. I also love to be correct. There was a running joke in our family, “Of course Thann is correct; He always is!” It was a not-so-subtle acknowledgment that my view about what I knew vastly exceeded what I actually knew. I would...

2 days ago • 8 min read

February 21, 2024 Viewing all things through the lens of the True and the beautiful! Subscribe for FREE! Pay if you want--or don't! Podcast The True Imaginitivity “I have imaginitivity.” Our daughter quickly corrected herself, “I mean, I have an imagination and creativity.” But I honestly prefer “imaginitivity.” It beautifully captures this intensely creative imagination that is characteristic of our God, and with which you were designed! Consider the fact that the very first thing we are...

9 days ago • 7 min read

February 14, 2024 Viewing all things through the lens of the True and the beautiful! Subscribe for FREE! Pay if you want--or don't! Podcast The True Theirs and Yours “The only thing deemed not good in all of creation was man being alone.” Those were the words of Heather Zempel this past Sunday as she discussed the story of the four unnamed men who dug a hole through the dirt and clay roof above Jesus to lower a fifth unnamed man—an invalid—through the opening in order to gain an audience for...

16 days ago • 8 min read
Share this post