May 31, 2023

Welcome into The Equipped! This week, we will consider why it's important to finish in our faith in way that is in keeping with how we started. We will also get a sweet (literally) reminder of the goodness of God's creation. In between, we'll tackle some news stories. Let's jump in!

The True

Finish how You Start

Paul was angry! He was writing to the church at Galatia—a church he obviously loved—and he didn’t hold back: “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? . . . Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1,3)

Nothing like subtlety! Paul didn’t mince words. But it was for a good reason. Paul saw a church he loved—people he loved—leaving behind the very thing (faith) that saved them in exchange for something (the law) that would doom them. He saw a people who had been convinced by the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross now turning to place their dependence on the works of their own hands. It seemed impossible for him to believe, and he was desperate to redirect them.

I need this redirection so frequently. I suspect many of us do, and we can accept that redirection today. It is so easy to turn inward and to our own strength when the going gets difficult. The natural inclination is to press harder, to dig deeper, and to strive to produce more. I know the feeling well. But the wonderful, transcendent fact about our salvation is that it has already been accomplished (Jn. 17:4). There is nothing that your work or mine can add to that finished work. In fact, any effort we make to add to it actually detracts from it. We cannot finish in the flesh what was started through a work on the cross, and imparted to us in the spirit.

What a liberating reality it is if we can walk in this Truth! Your good standing with God does not depend on the work of your flesh. You are free to continue, and even to finish, exactly how you started in your faith—by surrendering to the almighty power imparted to you by the spirit of God.

His work for you is complete! But His work in and through you will continue to grow until it is complete and He draws you to His side (Philip. 1:6). So today, let’s rest in the power of His Spirit that first compelled and convinced us! Let’s not settle for a dependence on our flesh when so much more is available to us!


Deal or No Deal

We have a deal! Or do we?

This week’s top news out of DC is once again the twists and turns of the debt limit negotiations. We considered leaving the latest developments out of this week’s edition, but ultimately decided it is a helpful exercise for us to walk through these late-stage developments together in real-time in order to view them most transparently—both for this debt deadline and the inevitable next deadlines. So first, the facts:

- President Joe Biden and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced they have reached a deal to raise the nation’s debt limit for two years. You can read the 99 pages (short by usual standards) of legislative text here.

- Almost immediately, critics of the deal emerged from within both the Republican and Democrat House conferences.

- Leadership in the U.S. House hopes to pass the deal on Wednesday, and the Senate plans to follow suit before June 5, which is the latest “deadline” proffered by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Analysis and eternal perspective: As we’ve discussed previously,

- Yes, it is important for the U.S. to avoid default.

- The “deadlines” from Treasury have a somewhat arbitrary nature to them and will shift (the initial “deadline” was June 1). While a “deadline” may pass, the U.S. will not default. There will be a deal and the debt limit will be raised.

- There will be endless drama—much of it fabricated to increase negotiating leverage—until a deal is enacted.

- Unless true spending reform is eventually embraced by both parties, we will be right back in the same position of needing to acquire more debt soon.

While the noise has increased and there is at least some uncertainty about whether the current iteration of the “deal” will pass, we as The Equipped community were prepared for exactly this situation. We should continue to acknowledge the serious components of, a) avoiding default, and b) achieving fiscal sanity (nothing in this deal would change the reality that our federal spending continues to exceed its revenues), while continuing to decline an embrace of the manufactured crisis rhetoric that is predictably coming out of DC.

Instead, we are liberated to abide in the perfect peace and steadfast minds described in Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”


Everyone is Running

It will come as a surprise to nobody, but it seems as though everyone in DC is considering a run for President in 2024. With the recent announcements by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senator Tim Scott (SC), there are now seven announced Republican candidates and three announced Democrat candidates. They are as follows:


- Ron DeSantis (FL Governor)

- Larry Elder (radio host)

- Nikki Haley (former UN Ambassador and U.S. Senator - SC)

- Asa Hutchinson (former AR Governor)

- Vivek Ramaswamy (businessman)

- Tim Scott (U.S. Senator – SC)

- Donald Trump (former President)


- Joe Biden (President)

- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (lawyer)

- Marianne Williamson (author)

There are countless others considering a bid, especially on the Republican side. It seems all but certain that former Vice President Mike Pence and former NJ Governor Chris Christie will run, and possible that VA Governor Glenn Youngkin and perhaps others will join the field.

Analysis and eternal perspective: The freedom to self-govern and engage in free debate is a blessing of our republic. As Jesus followers, we should recognize the powerful impact that U.S. public policy has all around the world while also properly prioritizing our Gospel mandate. We can, and often should, have an impact on both, but the latter will always be our ultimate mission.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philip. 3:20).


War in Two Capitals

The ugly realities of war were felt in two major capital cities this week, as both Moscow, Russia and Kyiv, Ukraine were the targets of drone attacks. While wide-scale fighting has waged inside Ukraine nearly nonstop since Russia invaded more than 15 months ago, the fighting has rarely impacted Russian territory.

Eternal Perspective: Psalm 82:3-4 is a cry for God to defend the weak, the needy, and the oppressed. We should lift this plea to God today for all who are suffering the devastation of war in Russia and Ukraine. The attacks in Moscow are a direct repercussion of President Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine, and the number of innocents who are impacted continues to rise. We should pray that both justice and peace would prevail.

The Beautiful

Taste and See!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).

Every week in The Beautiful, we turn our attention to something beautiful in the world around us. Nobody does this better than my bride, Brooke, who is always attuned to beauty that many of us overlook. So in the weeks ahead, we are going to use The Beautiful to look through her camera’s lens at the beautiful things she finds. We begin this week with the amazing honeysuckle that is blooming all over our woods. For the one who knows how to do it just so, the tiniest drop of natural sweetness can be pulled from each bloom—literally a drop of beautiful and tasty sweetness from God’s hand!

If you find honeysuckle in your neck of the woods, I invite you to literally “taste and see that the Lord is good!”

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The "news" has a way of imparting fear, but the Good News liberates! Let's stay aware of the times, but finish how we started by aiming steadfastly toward the redemption of others.

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