April 19, 2023
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Over the weekend, I set a bunch of fence posts. If you’ve ever set posts, you know the process is pretty simple: Dig a hole, drop the post in, level the post, fill the hole with concrete. It is not exactly rocket science. However, the result is an above-ground structural element with a strength and stability rooted in something far bigger and far stronger than itself. Because of this, the post is able to form a foundation for any number of functional—and sometimes even beautiful—projects. In our case, the project was a garden fence that will protect our vegetables from the always-present deer.
Our world needs firm foundations, as well. There is so much around us that is shaking. There is great need, significant separation from God, and widespread calamity. However, it should thrill your heart that God saw fit to choose you for this place and time. He chose you to be the vessel through which His power would flow to a hurting and needy world.
Psalm 75:3 says, “When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.” In our illustration, you and I are the fence posts. The world can see you in a literal and tangible sense, and you form the structural elements for countless functional and beautiful endeavors that God inspires. But the component that infuses power into Jesus followers is the one that isn’t always so visible “above-ground.” The thing that gives you capacity for great strength and stability is the Person in whom you are rooted. You have transcendence to offer our world specifically because you are rooted in something—SOMEONE—far greater and far stronger than yourself.
So when the earth and everyone around you is shaking and quaking, you can be secure because of your foundation. You can trust Him to hold you firm.
National Defense Compromised
A 21-year old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Jack Teixeira, has been arrested and is facing charges of unlawfully retaining and disseminating classified information related to national defense and intelligence. Teixeira allegedly began posting the documents in late 2022 to a social media platform frequented by gamers. The highly sensitive documents revealed information about U.S. foreign surveillance operations as well as strategic military deliberations. If convicted, Teixeira could face up to 15 years in prison.
Analysis: These are very serious charges. When an American citizen is trusted with access to classified information, he or she becomes part of a human fabric that protects both national interests and also human sources around the world. When that trust is broken, it puts both critical priorities at stake—America becomes less secure as a nation, and the lives of countless specific individuals are placed in grave danger. Make no mistake about it, a leak of this kind is far more than a dispute between the government and one of its citizens, and in fact does direct harm to numerous security interests.
As Jesus followers, we should first endeavor to be true to our word. Ecclesiastes 5 gives sound guidance on this point, and reminds us that our most important vows are the ones we make to God. Ecclesiastes 5:5 says, “It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.” Next, while the resolution of this case is not within your control, it serves as a sober reminder of the damage that can be inflicted on others when we fail to keep our word.
U.S. Officials Fired Upon in Sudan
Violence flared in Sudan over the weekend, and on Monday it impacted a convoy of U.S. officials, according to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The civil war of sorts is being waged by two Sudanese Generals who previously cooperated with each other in a military coup, and has resulted in nearly 200 deaths and nearly 2,000 injuries. On Monday, a convoy carrying U.S. officials was fired upon, but no injuries were sustained.
Eternal Perspective: Our verse from The True, Ps. 75:3, is relevant as we consider how to respond to this type of chaos overseas. The situation in Sudan is just one of many examples of our earth and our fellow mankind suffering significant disruption and violence. It is an unequivocal truth that hundreds of millions of our brothers and sisters live in extremely tenuous circumstances. Our own circumstances can often be cause for fear and instability, as well. You can take heart, however, in the promise that your God holds the foundation of the earth—and all of creation—in His mighty hands. Because of this confidence, we can be the people with the confidence and the creativity to inject life into situations that seem to offer only death.
Spotlight on the Supreme Court
It is a busy week at the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the highest court in the land heard arguments in a case involving a dispute between the U.S. Postal Service and a postal worker who was denied accommodations to observe the Sabbath. The dispute centers on the extent to which an employer must go to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs and observances. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires at least some accommodation for religious observances, but this case will further clarify those requirements.
On Wednesday, the Court is scheduled to make a pivotal ruling in a case involving the FDA’s prior approval of mifepristone, an abortion pill. The drug has long been at the center of extensive legal wrangling, but a lower court recently issued restrictions for the drug based on what it found to be an insufficient approval process. A federal appeals court upheld many of those restrictions, and now the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on an emergency challenge to that decision by the Biden Administration.
Eternal perspective: Even in cases that involve matters as important as religious freedom and the sanctity of life, it can be difficult to fully grasp the ramifications of specific litigation. As Jesus followers, we should do our best to honestly evaluate the proper role of government in a matter, as well as the most faithful interpretation of current federal law. The freedom to fully practice sincerely held religious beliefs and customs is an essential and foundational component of our inherent rights endowed by God and recognized by our legal framework. That does not automatically make every request for religious accommodation a legally protected one, or one on which employers must bear the burden (sometimes the individual simply has the freedom to select new employment). It can be tricky to determine where to draw that line.
Next, while the abortion pill case is technically about the bureaucratic approval process of a federal agency (which is itself important for a variety of reasons), we as Jesus followers should be most concerned about the infinite value of each life involved in these situations. Every father, every mother, and every life inside the womb is created in the image of God. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Oh, that all God’s appointed would indeed become prophets (Num. 11:29)! Let’s endeavor as Jesus followers to make a way where there seems to be no way for every father, every mother, and every child.
Multiple Heroes; One Beautiful Union
I will never tire of days like this one. While the specific story is not mine to tell, today is yet another day our family has the privilege of seeing a heroic birth mother, a heroic adoptive family, and a beautiful baby with infinite inherent value come together to create a union that is the closest representation of what Jesus modeled for us on the cross I’ve ever known.
A few weeks ago, The Equipped community considered the beauty of God’s promise in Psalm 68:6 to “set the lonely in families.” I hope I will never take for granted the privilege of witnessing that promise play out in reality. The beauty of the moment is intensified in that it takes multiple heroes choosing distinct forms of sacrifice in order to achieve the union. Today, the world is more beautiful by a magnitude of at least one such union.
It is time to turn and face the world! Let's purpose together to do so with a vigor, a love, and a confidence rooted in a firm foundation. You were made for this!