August 2, 2023

This week's edition of The Equipped considers grand stages and high profile moments. Your life may or may not involve bright lights, but you are invited to tell the greatest story on the biggest stage! We're so glad you are here!

The True

The Biggest Stage

Habakkuk may just be my favorite biblical character. He’s at least among my favorites, and for reasons you might not expect.

As far as we know, Habakkuk never slayed a giant or a bear or a lion. We aren’t aware of any miracles he performed, churches he planted, or missionary journeys he took. He wasn’t one of the twelve disciples, in the lineage of Jesus, or tasked with building an ark or a temple.

In fact, Habakkuk was frustrated, impatient, and anxious. In a word, he was cranky. It is that crankiness and what he did with it that makes me like Habakkuk. It makes me relate to Habakkuk. In fact, I even wrote a book about Habakkuk. But let me zoom in on one particular trait about Habakkuk today—his boldness on the biggest of all stages.

You see, Habakkuk felt about his times the way you might feel about yours. He looked around and saw evil on the rise. He saw injustice prevailing, and he saw the wicked triumphing. I can relate to that. Further, I can relate to the fact that Habakkuk, unlike many heroes of faith, seemed to lack the capacity for a measured response. It very well may have been best if Habakkuk had approached God with a contrite spirit (Ps. 51:17). But it was almost as though Habakkuk lacked that maturity, so instead he lashed out at God. He blamed God, and he confronted God with an accusation of being absent while the people were suffering (Hab. 1:13).

I like Habakkuk not because he is the perfect model of how to interact with the Almighty, but because I know I often take the same approach, and because God’s response reveals so much about His beautiful character. In his frustration, Habakkuk casts aside pretense and dignity, and throws his frustrations upon God in a way that should have warranted God’s wrath. But instead of responding in anger, our benevolent God hears Habakkuk, responds to Habakkuk, and invites Habakkuk into the solution (Hab. 1:5; 2:2).

Our God is capable of redeeming what is lost all on His own. He could do it without us. But He so desires relationship with us that He not only overlooks our clumsy outbursts about the brokenness around us, but also makes us a part of His remedy for them!

It is truly breathtaking to consider—the God of the universe so longs for relationship with you that He has entangled His reputation and plan for humanity with you. He has invited you and me to stand on the biggest and grandest stage of all and tell His story from it! He does it knowing full well that we have frustrations and shortcomings that make us unworthy of association with His holiness.

He invites us anyway.

So today, what will you do with your frustrations? Perhaps you should choose a better approach than Habakkuk. But one way or another, let’s you and I be sure to follow the example of Habakkuk and run with confidence to the biggest stage of all—the throne room of the Almighty—to invite Him to invade your world! He longs for just that.


High Profile Legal Trouble

Both frontrunners in the 2024 presidential primaries are facing legal peril. Former President Donald Trump has again been indicted—this time in connection to the aftermath of the 2020 elections, and current President Joe Biden has been implicated in his son Hunter’s ongoing legal challenges. Supporters of each man describe the allegations against their candidate as politically motivated, while critics of each man point to the allegations as evidence the candidate is unfit to serve.

Analysis and eternal perspective: What are we to do with this tangled web? Once again, regardless of your party affiliation or preferred candidate, doesn’t this feel impossible to wisely navigate? As a Jesus follower, you are called to seek justice (Is. 1:17), but that can be a very difficult directive to put into action. There are, however, a couple of very clear biblical instructions that will equip us with discernment on when, where, and how to engage.

First, we should heed 2 Tim. 2:16 and “avoid godless chatter.” It is such a simple reminder and carries with it the tremendous benefit of staying focused on Kingdom impact, but it is also so easily ignored. There will constantly be godless chatter around us, but may we be a people constantly aware of it, and relentlessly focused on all that is True and beautiful (Philip. 4:8).

Next, we should be humbly devoted to truth over any personal or political preference. John 8:32 reminds us that truth sets us free, and the call to humility in our actions is one of the most repeated encouragements in scripture (Jam. 4:10, Pr. 3:34, and Mic. 6:8 are just a few examples).

These are not easy traits to embody, but neither are they complex! Let’s endeavor to avoid unmerited chatter while walking with the humility required to desire truth and justice in every situation, and regardless of our political preferences.


The Debate Stage is (Almost) Set

Ready or not, here it comes. The 2024 presidential debates are about to kick off, with the first debate in the Republican primary scheduled for August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In order to be eligible to participate, candidates must meet minimum polling standards, have at least 40,000 unique and geographically diverse donors, and sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee.

Currently, the following seven campaigns claim to have qualified: Gov. Doug Burgum, former Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Gov. Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott, and former President Donald Trump. Notably absent from the list is former Vice President Mike Pence, whose campaign says they have met the polling requirements and expect to soon meet the donor requirements.

It is less clear which qualified candidates will choose to appear. Former President Trump has indicated that his significant lead in the polls may convince him to bypass the debate, and at least Trump and Christie have suggested they may not commit to supporting the eventual nominee.

Meanwhile, President Biden, in keeping with recent norms, is thus far declining to agree to any primary debates.

Analysis and eternal perspective: Regardless of your party affiliation or your preferred candidate, it is time to buckle in and prepare for the presidential election cycle. We in The Equipped community make it a regular practice to anticipate predictable ebbs and flows in the rhetorical tone of our civic debate. We also work to inject health and flourishing into that debate whenever and wherever possible. With that goal in mind, we as Jesus followers can look to Galatians 5 for a two-part model of how to live in, and from a place of, true freedom:

1) Be grateful for the blessing to live as free people, and to have a voice in our republic (vv. 1 and 13 affirm God’s perfect design that we live as free people).

2) Use our God-given freedom not to provoke, but rather to serve one another (vv. 13-14, 26)

This is a simple, but far from easy, model to embody. We live in a world often hostile to truth, and in which a commitment to truth will often be mocked. Even so, we have the awesome call to stand on truth in a way that offers redemption to those who have yet to find it. As the election cycle triggers an inevitable march toward rancor and division, let’s be a people committed to earnest engagement rooted in biblical service. That might just have a greater impact than we could possibly imagine.


A Physical Toll

A growing number of U.S. Senators are facing serious health challenges. In recent weeks, Senators Dianne Feinstein and John Fetterman have both missed significant time for health-related reasons, and this week Senators Mitch McConnell and Katie Britt experienced their own health scares. There have of course been other high-profile political leaders with health-related challenges, but it is a particularly relevant concern for the current U.S. Senate.

Analysis and eternal perspective: First, this story is a sobering—but also hopeful—reminder that we all inhabit temporary physical bodies as we journey toward eternity (2 Cor. 5:1-10). Physical ailments are a part of the human experience on Earth, and we can all expect to encounter them.

Next, this is a good reminder to pray for our leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Serving in a government position of leadership is very demanding and often takes a heavy toll. In addition to praying our leaders would act wisely, we should also be praying for their physical wellbeing.

Finally, this is a good opportunity to take stock of your own physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Your body, though temporary, is still a temple of the Holy Spirit that should be used to honor God (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Take a moment today to evaluate your consumption (God’s Word, diet, media), as well as your habits (sleep, exercise, relationships) to determine whether adjustments need to be made.

What a privilege it is to have been gifted this incredible human existence by the hand of the Creator! Let’s steward it well!

The Beautiful

Creation's Stage

“I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up” (Is. 49:11).

Today, as you consider the road ahead, be sure to take note of the beauty in the mountains through which God is carving your path!

Whatever stage you stand on this week, use it to proclaim the goodness of our God! Be sure to subscribe to The Equipped podcast, and thank you for being a part of the community!

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