April 26, 2023
Happy Wednesday, and welcome to another edition of The Equipped! This week, we are focusing on the power, the potential, and even the transcendence of today! You have God-given purpose today, and we are so grateful to be in community with you!
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Today. It is a word packed with potential and promise. In fact, it is my word of the year for 2023. When I felt God impressing the word ‘today’ on my heart, I initially assumed He was speaking it in a mostly motivational and self-help sort of way—as an encouragement to produce today. But as I turned to scripture with the word in mind, it was clear God’s perspective of ‘today’ is quite different. God’s concern about your today has far more to do with who He is today than with what you or I do today.
First, God’s love for you, and His mercies to cover you, are new and fresh today! In fact, Lamentations 3:22-23 says His “steadfast love…never ceases” and His “mercies never come to an end [and] are new every morning.” Your today is secure before you wake up because of His love and mercies! These promises are particularly vital when circumstances get rough.
Next, your today is secure and should be free from worry and anxiety because your God will provide (Philip. 4:19). In fact, God’s promise in this regard extends beyond today and into the future, as well (Matt. 6:31-34). God will provide, and our posture should reflect this dependence according to Matt. 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Finally, in what is perhaps the most profound aspect about who your God is today, Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Your God is consistent. He is today who He was yesterday, and He will be tomorrow who He is today! You can count on Him, and you can trust His Word. In a world where so little can be relied upon—our health, our wealth, and even our reputation are all fleeting—you serve a God today who is unchanging through the ages. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Is. 40:8)
So today, be what may, your God is. And tomorrow, come what may, your God will be!
Legendary New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once famously said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again!” That’s certainly the feeling in political circles, as President Biden announced he will seek reelection in 2024. The announcement sets up the possibility of a rematch with former President Donald Trump, who previously announced he will seek to occupy the White House for a second term. Both men will face primary challengers, and both men will face questions about their age and fitness to serve the full term, if elected. Biden is 80 years old, and already the oldest serving President in U.S. history. He would be 86 if he served a full second term. Trump is 76 and would be 82 if he served a full second term.
Eternal perspective: Presidential campaigns in the U.S. have long been contentious, but they have grown particularly ugly in recent years. There is every reason to believe that the 2024 campaign will continue that trend. For those of us who are both Jesus followers and citizens of the United States, we have a unique and important duty to navigate these murky waters with care.
First, it is worth acknowledging that the freedom to debate, dissent, and disagree over the course of a political campaign is in fact a hallmark of a free and democratic Republic. We are blessed to live in a time and place where dissent is tolerated and even embraced, as that is not the norm over the long arc of human history. Further, when the freedom to disagree is curtailed, oppression generally reins. It is in an environment that permits a wide range of views that individuals have the most liberty to choose a belief in, and an association with, Jesus. Therefore, on a philosophical level, the tension of a contrast election is itself anything but negative. It is, in fact, essential for a truly free society.
However, as a Jesus follower, you have a calling that transcends any political ambition or agenda. You are called be an ambassador for Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) and to live a sacrificial life that prefers others over yourself (Rom. 12:10). Walking out these higher ambitions will set you significantly apart from the cultural norm, and will almost certainly bring to fruition the seemingly undesirable promise in 1 Peter 2:9 that you will be seen as peculiar.
But take heart! We are pursuing a goal much higher than our preferred occupant in any political office. You and I live first and foremost for the glory of our God, and for the purpose of extending to others the invitation for relationship with Him. When we engage divisive social situations like presidential elections in a way that clearly communicates love and compassion—and do so even across very real lines of disagreement—we create opportunities for others to find Jesus. While political debates in this nation, the superpower of the world, have real and actual significance, they still pale in comparison to the eternal impact you will have when you lead with love, even across sincerely-held lines of disagreement.
Out of Money
The U.S. government is once again nearly out of money and without permission to take on more debt. Before you panic, you should know that the country has been in this position nearly 80 times since 1960, and every time Congress has authorized the acquisition of more debt in order to meet its obligations. It will do so again this time, despite all of the palace intrigue that will accompany the deliberations in the meantime.
Analysis: The U.S. will take on the debt required to meet its obligations. The real outstanding question from a policy point of view is when and who will finally initiate the fundamental changes necessary to constrain federal spending within the bounds of federal revenue? In recent years, the size and scope of the federal government and the amount of national debt have both increased dramatically. Neither political party has shown the resolve necessary to reverse this trend.
Proverbs 21:20 is just one of many biblical admonitions that it is wise to store up for future needs. You likely exercise this discipline in your personal life, and it would be wise for us to collectively implore our government to deploy it as well. While we would do well to resist the breathless hyperbole that will accompany the immediate debate over the current debt limit deadline, we should also be sober-minded about the need for elected leaders to begin taking seriously their duty to better manage our national spending habits.
Changes on Your TV
Millions of viewers will have a change in their cable news lineups, as two prominent hosts—Tucker Carlson of Fox News and Don Lemon of CNN—had their shows canceled by their respective employers.
Eternal Perspective: It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially when the source is a media personality. Regardless of whether we favor or disfavor the personality in question, there is a human tendency for the source of the information to significantly impact our assessment of the information. This news presents us with a good opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the principle of 2 Timothy 2:15, which reminds us to handle matters of truth and fact carefully. When it comes to matters of “news,” we would do well to have inquisitive minds that seek out truth rather than simply deferring our understanding to our preferred human source.
There is precious little more beautiful or more valuable than a lifelong friend. I had the privilege this week to share several hours with one such friend who had just received a very difficult health diagnosis. In a cruel twist of fate, this difficult news came on the heels of a similar diagnosis for a member of our family. But as we’ve been learning in this space we call The Beautiful, the most beautiful things in our world are often intricately intermingled within and amongst the most difficult things. I certainly found that to be the case as I walked and talked with my friend.
Difficulty reminds us to dwell on that which is beautiful.
Struggle reminds us of the beauty of sacrifice.
Ultimately, our mortality reminds us of the transcendent beauty of redemption, eternity, and the promise that one day all things will be made whole.
As long as we are on this side of eternity, the beauty in our world comes mixed with pain and struggle. But both our time here on earth and our promised never-ending time in eternity are nothing short of a beautiful gift.
In fact, that’s how my friend summarized our time together: “Today was a gift.”
Indeed it was. Today, and every day.
As you turn now to face the world, I am confident you will encounter challenging circumstances. But remember, today—challenging circumstances and all—is a gift. Cherish it!
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