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Two Worlds - January 10, 2024

Published about 2 months ago • 6 min read

January 10, 2024

It's caucus time in America, friends . . . or at least in Iowa. There is also a big election case at the U.S. Supreme Court, and it's deja vu all over again in the U.S. Congress. But first, we will consider the two worlds in which we live! Thank you for being part of The Equipped family!

The True

Two Worlds

A dear friend recently introduced me to the writing of Thomas Traherne, who wrote the following in his book, Waking Up in Heaven (adapted from his 17th century work, Centuries of Meditations):

“Truly there are two worlds. One was made by God, the other by men. That made by God was great and beautiful. Before the Fall it was Adam’s joy and the temple of his glory. That made by men is a Babel of confusions: invented riches, pomps and vanities, brought in by sin.

‘Give all,’ says Thomas à Kempis, ‘for all.’ Leave the one that you may enjoy the other.”

Traherne and Kempis so succinctly and beautifully illustrate this mission you and I describe as embracing the True and the beautiful. To be sure, there is a tremendous volume of untruth and filth in our fallen world. After all, we live in a world created by God, but continually subject to the fashioning and molding of men. The result is a daily existence that can feel stretched between “two worlds,” one lovely and one unlovely.

It is what we do with these two worlds, and which one we embrace and choose to live from, that determines so much about the wellbeing of both our spirit and soul.

The “world” around you is so very often broken and not so beautiful. But the created world you are blessed to have been designed for and placed into is miraculous and life-giving! It is embodied by its Creator, who also created you and invited you to enjoy the fullness of it. You have both permission and invitation to not only live out of that beauty, but also to reach into the confused world of men and offer an escape into the beautiful world made by God’s hand.

What an existence! You and I can root and rest in the beautiful of all God has made, and we can offer it to those around us. It takes intentionality to choose that existence over one based in what is being built around us. But to truly revel in the fullness of the beauty God has offered, we must choose His world over the one we have fashioned. In this, we find fullness of joy.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Ps. 16:11).


Time to Caucus

The 2024 presidential election enters a new phase on Monday as Iowa Republicans gather to caucus for their preferred primary candidate. The caucuses mark the first official contest on the primary calendar, but Iowa GOP voters will not actually cast votes. Instead, they will participate in a lengthier process to determine which primary candidates have the most support (you can read a more robust explanation of the caucus process here). According to recent Iowa polls, former President Donald Trump appears to have a commanding lead over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the three of which are the only candidates above 10% in an average of recent Iowa polls.

Analysis and eternal perspective: Participating in a democratic process like a presidential primary is a blessing of liberty. It can be easy to overlook this fact due to hyperbolic nature of politics, but it is important to regularly remind ourselves that self-governance is a relatively rare phenomenon over the course of human civilization. The American people are blessed with the opportunity to shoulder such a responsibility, and the beginning of another presidential voting cycle is cause for gratitude.

For those following the primary process on a national scale, all eyes will turn immediately from Iowa to New Hampshire, as the first-in-the-nation primary takes place on January 23, 2024, with several caucuses and primaries following quickly behind and leading into “Super Tuesday” on March 5, 2024 (a full primary calendar is here). As anyone who follows American politics knows, polls can be misleading, but the ultimate outcome often comes into clear focus over this roughly seven week stretch.

As Jesus followers, this is an opportunity to both exercise the blessings of liberty and demonstrate a spirit of Christ-like service and love. A packed primary calendar routinely causes even political allies to turn against each other, which can make this an anxiety-producing time for many. As you endeavor to be at peace with all people (Rom. 12:18), look for opportunities to sustain those in your community, regardless of whether they share your political persuasion.


Expedited Review

The Supreme Court has agreed, on an expedited basis, to hear arguments in a case regarding former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the Colorado primary ballot. The argument will take place on February 8, 2024, which will allow for a decision in advance of Colorado’s primary on March 5, 2024. The decision will almost certainly also have ramifications for similar challenges in other states.

Analysis and eternal perspective: You and I have together been anticipating this development as part of the natural legal process in our constitutional republic. While our community here at The Equipped almost certainly holds a wide array of views about the proper outcome in this case, we are together committed to a Proverbs 18:17-inspired approach that involves an honest consideration of arguments on both sides, and an even-handed application of truth and justice under the law.

To that end, as we have done previously, it would be helpful to again review the underlying law in dispute, namely Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution and Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. It may surprise you how understandable these provisions are (our Founders gave us a tremendous blessing when they crafted our governing documents in such an accessible fashion), and you will be more informed than most if you invest two minutes to read them.

Next, if you are going to follow this case seriously, it will be important to read source documents for yourself. The Court has issued a briefing schedule, which sets deadlines for filings on January 18, January 31, and February 5. The rhetoric and the reporting around this case will be heated, to say the least, and as we have previously reminded ourselves, very little is as important to a constitutional republic than broad access to the ballot and careful application of the law. The U.S. Supreme Court is now tasked with this delicate balance, and we as The Equipped community have an opportunity to put into practice our commitment to 2 Tim. 1:7, which invites us to reject fear in favor of lives infused with power, love, and sound minds.

This case will pull many people apart. We in The Equipped family, even as we arrive at varied opinions about the proper outcome of the case, will stand together and strengthen our ability to grapple with the difficult legal questions that accompany self-governance.


Let's Make Another Deal

President Joe Biden, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Mike Johnson have announced the framework of a spending bill to avert a government shutdown and fund the government through the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2024. The deal, which would spend approximately $1.66 trillion (after including a $69 billion "side deal"), now has to pass both legislative chambers and be signed into law by January 19, 2024 to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Analysis and eternal perspective: It sounds like a broken record, but we as The Equipped community have been preparing for this news, as well. No longer does Congress exercise the “power of the purse” through debate and amendment, but rather by leaping from deadline to deadline, and employing negotiations that involve a handful of leaders rather than the full chambers. As a result, it is no surprise that each and every “deal” falls short of addressing the underlying problem of expenditures that exceed revenues (according to the U.S. Treasury Department, this has been the case every year since 2001). This deal, even if enacted, will do nothing to disrupt that dubious streak.

As Jesus followers, we should continue to humbly expect better stewardship from our elected leaders. We should also model a better way in our own lives, and with our own resources. It is yet another tremendous blessing of liberty to be generous with our personal resources and serve those in need (Pr. 28:27). The primary motivation for this posture should be obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but as we grow in this discipline, we will also reap the benefit of a strengthened voice in favor of responsible national spending.

The Beautiful

Descend like Dew

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants” (Deut. 32:2).

May the beauty of God’s word and His created world refresh and restore you this week!

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