May 10, 2023

This week's glimpse into The Beautiful asks the question, "Will you be fearless?" But first, The True considers how God's voice can be heard in your world today. This bracketing of God's voice and your call to overcome fear form a critical framework for how you and I should consider the events we'll discuss in-between.

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The True

A Rare Word

In those days the word of the Lord was rare. Those sobering words are found in the opening verse of 1 Samuel 3, but isn’t it tempting to believe them about today? The stories that follow in this week’s newsletter could easily lead us to the conclusion that God’s words are rare in our day. They might even cause us to doubt His presence altogether, and they certainly underscore a separation between God’s righteousness and our own depravity. But 1 Samuel 3 is actually an amazing reminder that even when the word of the Lord seems rare, He is still actively and persistently calling out to us, and inviting us into active relationship with Him!

In the verses that follow (I encourage you to read the entire chapter), we read the familiar story of God calling to the child Samuel in the night. It took three times for Samuel to realize it was God calling. It makes me wonder how often God calls out to you and me without getting a response? Is it possible we think God’s word is rare in our day simply because we don’t recognize His voice? Might it be true that God is calling you today, but you are unaware of it?

Once Samuel did recognize God’s voice, the message he heard was a mixed bag—part judgement and part promise (a familiar Old Testament theme). But there are two portions of God’s message to Samuel I want us to particularly focus on today.

First, in verse 11, God says, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.” Then in verse 19, it says, “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.”

My friends, when God’s word seems rare in the land, maybe it is simply because He is trying to speak it through you, and through me. Perhaps He is calling to you, depositing His word into your spirit, and entrusting you to be the conduit through which it reaches the world today. And perhaps, when you learn to hear His voice and find the courage to speak that word into the world, He will do something in our land that makes the ears of everyone who hears it tingle!

If we will tune our ears to God, His word will be anything but rare! In fact, it will rush through the land!


The Clock is (Still) Ticking

The “deadline” for the debt limit continues to inch closer, as there has been next to no movement in negotiations between the White House and Congress over the last week. The President met with congressional leaders on Tuesday (in what was the first real meeting between the two sides on the matter), but there was no measurable progress made. The White House continues to insist on an increase in the debt limit without spending changes while the U.S. House supports the bill it passed last week, which raises the debt limit and reduces spending. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has indicated the government will be unable to meet all of its obligations as early as June 1 if the borrowing limit is not raised.

Analysis and eternal perspective: As we’ve discussed previously in The Equipped, there are several things about this drama to remember:

  • It is important for the U.S. to avoid default.
  • The Treasury Department always has more options than it publicly suggests, and June 1 is not a hard “deadline.”
  • Perpetual increases in the debt limit without structural spending reforms simply ensure we continue to face these rolling “deadlines.”
  • There will almost certainly be escalating drama and brinksmanship as June 1 draws closer, and it is even possible there will be short periods where the “deadline” passes.
  • In the end, the debt limit will be increased and the U.S. will not truly default (that is not to say there will be no economic damage along the way).
  • The biggest open policy question is whether and when leaders will embrace true spending discipline.

As Jesus followers, we should heed the admonition of 2 Tim 2:16 and resist the “Godless chatter” that defines this debate but does not lead to a solution. We should instead invite leaders--both those we agree with and those we do not--to take seriously the mandate of Romans 13:4 to work for the good of the governed. There is very little value in most of the high-volume public conversation around this issue. But it is vitally important to be good stewards of what God has bestowed on, and entrusted to, our nation.


Chaos Continues on the Border

No, this is not a repeat of last week’s news, but the situation at the border continues to deteriorate in the lead up to Thursday’s planned end of the “Title 42” policy. As the administration signals it will no longer turn away migrants under Title 42’s health emergency authority, officials expect the volume of migrant crossings to swell dramatically. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is planning to use a “tactical border force” to help manage the humanitarian and security crisis.

Analysis and eternal perspective: The lack of operational control on the border is a losing situation for everyone, including both U.S. citizens and those seeking a new home in the U.S. The government’s failure to maintain operational control of the border has rendered U.S. citizens less secure, and the failure to oversee a functioning process by which to lawfully navigate the immigration process has left prospective citizens swamped by chaos. If America is to truly be a land of opportunity, we will need to remedy both of these policy failures.

As Jesus followers, we should work toward the above goals, but as previously discussed in The Equipped, we have no less obligation in the interim to heed the biblical mandate to love and care for the foreigner in our land (Matt. 25:35, Lev. 19:33-34, Deut. 10:19). While this charge is a mandate, it is also simply an invitation for us to share camaraderie and community with fellow image-bearers. It should flow naturally from the One who lives in us, and no amount of policy chaos surrounding the larger issue should dissuade us from carrying it out.


Senseless Attack

In yet another senseless attack, nine people are dead after a gunman opened fire at a Texas mall. The victims include five adults and three children, and there are several others with injuries. The gunman was killed by law enforcement responding to the scene.

Eternal perspective: It feels impossible to make sense of an attack like this, and from a human perspective, that is reality. As Jesus followers, Isaiah 59 provides a framework through which we can consider situations like these. We are assure that “the arm of the Lord is not too short to save” (v. 1), but reminded that sin has separated us from God (v. 2). The chapter outlines many transgressions that are familiar to our society, but verse 7 hits particularly close to home when it says, “acts of violence mark their ways.” It is a sobering reality, but these events remind us just how much the human condition is separated from God.

But there is hope! The chapter closes with this promise:

“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord. “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

The Beautiful

Will You be Fearless?

A brand new project called A Fearless Life is currently one of the most beautiful things in my world. For this week’s glimpse of The Beautiful, watch this two-minute invitation for you to be fearless!

video preview

God's word is alive and active, and He's calling out to you. He desires relationship with you, and you can live fearlessly!

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