WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - DECEMBER 15, 2021
In this week's Intersect, read about:
American Dream Getting Out of Reach as Prices Spike at Dizzying Pace, Hitting Highest Level in 39 Years
“The price of the American dream feels like it's getting out of reach thanks, in part, to November's highest Consumer Price Index reading since 1982. November's inflation report shows the costs of housing, transportation, and food are spiking - the three largest areas of an average household budget. Inflation is pushing these costs for consumers at their fastest rates in many years. U.S. prices rose 6.8% over last November to a 39-year-high. With the cost of almost everything going up, analysts say now might be the time to be proactive and reorganize your family budget.” read more at CBN News
Inflation refers to a general increase in the prices of goods and services in the economy over time that causes an imbalance that leads to a decrease in the value of money. For inflation to occur, there must be an increase in numerous categories of goods and services, not just in one or two, even if they are substantial. For instance, housing prices in an area may spike, but that doesn’t mean you are facing inflation. Even an increase in a commodity, such as oil, that affects a range of goods and services does not necessarily lead to inflation. An increase in inflation occurs when almost everything you buy becomes more expensive. Today, the costs of new cars, food, gas, and restaurant meals have all jumped. While it was once one of America’s greatest economic problems, inflation has been historically low for so long that many people (especially younger people) don’t know why it matters. The short answer is that inflation makes us poorer. Inflation would not make us poorer if our income (such as wages and interest on savings) increased at the same rate. But that’s not usually what happens. In the real world, the cost of living can increase rapidly while our income is slower to respond. Therefore, inflation is particularly harmful for those who are unable to increase their income quickly enough to respond to higher prices, such as those on fixed incomes. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who was recently renominated by President Biden for a second term as chairman of the U.S. central bank, expressed surprise that inflation continued at such a substantial rate. He noted that the Federal Reserve would likely reign in its low-interest rates in the future to help slow inflation. With President Biden still pushing for his massive social spending bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, those in his party are expressing concern. Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary for President Clinton and an Obama administration official, and Steven Rattner, President Obama’s former auto czar warned, “the inflation rate would be slightly higher in 2022 and 2023 with the Build Back Better than it would be without.” If the supply chain problems persist, inflation continues to rise, and some planned purchases are out of reach, what will your response be? Even as our wealth increases (a typical American earns an income that is 10 times the income received by the typical person in the world), Americans are incredibly anxious about money. Money was the number one cause of stress for Americans in 2021, higher than personal relationships or work. According to Gallup, America is in the top ten most stressed countries, yet America’s GDP per capita is thirteenth in the world. Wealth cannot satisfy us. Things can’t satisfy us. Satan exploits those as best he can, but Jesus redeems them with his ultimate power. In times like these, Scripture passages like Luke 12 not only serve as a warning to be good stewards of our resources, but as a comfort that our possessions are not the measure of our lives.
Pray for officials in the Labor Department to seek the Lord for an understanding of the economy. Pray for the Federal Reserve members to have wisdom in endeavoring to slow the rate of inflation and pray that the president’s administration would be discerning in addressing the U.S. economy as it impacts all Americans.
One gift that won’t cost you anything right now is The Chosen’s Christmas special. Recently breaking records in movie theaters, they are now offering the 2-hour special as a gift to watch free online here. It’s a beautiful message that tells the birth of Jesus Christ through the eyes of Mary and Joseph. Musical guests perform throughout as well.
Death Toll Climbs from One of the Costliest Tornado Events in History
“Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at a press conference on Monday afternoon that the confirmed death toll in his state had risen to 74 in the wake of the historic tornado outbreak, with at least another 109 unaccounted for throughout the state. `We expect that this death toll will continue to grow,’ Beshear said, noting that the numbers he provided may differ slightly from those of individual coroner's offices. The governor said the actual number of those still missing was likely ‘way more’ than the number he gave and that the search for the missing was ongoing. Combined fatalities from the historic tornado outbreak in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri totaled at least 14, according to The Associated Press, making the death toll from the tornado outbreak 88 across five states.” read more at AccuWeather
‘Unprecedented’ seems to accurately describe the damage. It is humbling that even in America, one disaster can bring a town to its knees and reduce it to third-world conditions. "Our infrastructure is so damaged. We have no running water. Our water tower was lost. Our wastewater management was lost, and then there's no natural gas to the city, so we have nothing to rely on there," the mayor of Mayfield, Kentucky, reported. "So that is purely survival at this point for so many of our people." What will the recovery process look like? “This is not going to be days or weeks. This will be a recovery effort that goes on for years,” one Kentucky official stated. In addition to federal disaster relief aid, organizations and charities are raising money and mobilizing volunteers to help clear debris and rebuild. Churches are serving as shelters for many displaced people, and chaplains are being deployed to bring comfort and desperately needed hope. In addition to physical aid, spiritual help is essential, especially because of the compounding effect of this disaster on top of two years of pandemic-related disruptions. “I don’t know what normal is anymore,” lamented an eighty-two-year-old woman who is finding shelter at a local church for now. One man knew where his hope lay, even after the storm. A video shows him playing his damaged piano in the middle of his destroyed house. What was the song? “There’s Something About That Name:'' Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there's just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, But there's something about that name. As Christians, we typically reflect on the wonder of our Creator and Savior choosing to be born in a manger outside the comforts of a home. For those who have just lost their homes, this aspect of the Christmas story can be especially comforting. Jesus does not stand aloof from our hardship and suffering but sympathizes with our heartaches. He truly is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)
Pray for those who have lost family, friends, houses, and security. Pray for all the rescue and relief volunteers as well. If you have been impacted by the tornadoes, we’re here for you, even if you just need someone to listen to how you’re feeling at this time. Please let us know of any prayer requests and if there is a need, we might be able to help meet through the connections we have throughout the region. You can email us at email@example.com. Our team would love to personally pray for you and help in any way that we can.
There are so many ways to help, but we’ll highlight one unique organization, Mercy Chefs. They are a faith-based, non-profit, disaster relief organization providing quality food to comfort and sustain victims, volunteers, and first-responders in the wake of a disaster. Within 24 hours after the tornadoes, they were serving food in Mayfield, Kentucky. If you would like to donate to or volunteer with this organization, visit mercychefs.com/kytornado.
Secret CIA Files Say Staffers Committed Sex Crimes Involving Children
“Over the past 14 years, the Central Intelligence Agency has secretly amassed credible evidence that at least 10 of its employees and contractors committed sexual crimes involving children. Though most of these cases were referred to US attorneys for prosecution, only one of the individuals was ever charged with a crime. Prosecutors sent the rest of the cases back to the CIA to handle internally, meaning few faced any consequences beyond the possible loss of their jobs and security clearances. That marks a striking deviation from how sex crimes involving children have been handled at other federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Administration. CIA insiders say the agency resists prosecution of its staff for fear the cases will reveal state secrets.” read more at BuzzFeed
The reports obtained by BuzzFeed through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits revealed instances of CIA staffers engaging in both physical sexual abuse and online viewing of pornography involving children. This behavior is egregiously evil on its own, but its occurrence in the Central Intelligence Agency also poses a threat to national security. In an interview on Allie Beth Stuckey’s podcast, Jack Posobiec, a former Navy intelligence officer, noted that this illegal activity compromises the integrity of the government agents who are supposed to keep the country safe, leaving us vulnerable to our enemies. “Private'' sinful behavior often has public consequences. One of the saddest illustrations of this is the rampant use of pornography–which is ensnaring our children in increasing numbers. According to a survey conducted in 2020, the number of children ages nine to twelve who have shared nude images of themselves more than doubled since 2019. This tragic spike corresponds with increased screen time during the pandemic, where children had easy access to pornography and hyper-sexualized content. Why should we be surprised when children and teens copy what they see, hear, and read? “The only natural outcome of content that exploits children is an increase in real-life exploitation,” Parents Television and Media Council President Tim Winter stated. How did we get here? A BreakPoint article written by John Stonestreet in 2019 pinpoints the problem: “Ultimately, we’re witnessing the de-civilizing of our society, a sickening illustration of how bad ideas create victims. No culture wakes up and just decides to exploit its children, but the decades-long process of re-defining human beings according to our sexual ideologies rather than their God-designed dignity is what brought us here. In the decades to come it will likely fall to Christians, as it did in ancient times, to be the ones who protect children, rather than preying on them.”
If you have children or interact with them regularly, pray the words of Proverbs 4 and 5 over them (and teach it to them). Ask the Lord to help you guide them in wisdom and responsibility, with appropriate safeguards. Pray that they will exercise discernment in their relationships and media consumption, and know they have freedom to ask for help.
It has been said that it’s not a question of if your child with view pornography, but when. For help navigating this hyper-sexualized world with your child, we encourage you to get a copy of the book Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World: A Field Guide for Parents. “[T]he authors skillfully outline the steps necessary for parents to move beyond merely surviving pornography’s challenges onto a rewarding path where their children can truly thrive.”
Daughter of Slain Officer Richard Houston Stuns Mourners with Message of Forgiveness
“Just over a week ago, the life of Richard Houston II, a 21-year veteran of the Mesquite, Texas, police department, was taken by a gun-wielding man in a parking lot. Jamie Jaramillo, mistress by his side, had just been confronted by his wife about his infidelity. Officer Houston took the call to respond to the disturbance and upon arriving attempted to talk with Jaramillo. For reasons that weren't immediately clear, Jaramillo pulled out a gun, shot Houston twice in the chest, and then turned the gun on himself. The gunman has survived his self-inflicted wound to the head, but the 46-year-old Houston died at the scene, leaving behind a wife and three children. But thankfully, that isn't all he left behind. According to colleagues, Houston was a man of strong faith, a fact substantiated not just by the personal Bible that always accompanied him in his squad car, but by this – the testimony of grace his 18-year-old daughter Shelby delivered at the heart-wrenching funeral.” read more at Not The Bee
That any 18-year-old could muster the composure to speak at her own father's funeral is remarkable. But to put on full display such an embodiment of the Christlike qualities of grace, forgiveness and mercy is an example to us all. “My prayer is that someday down the road, I'd get to spend some time with the man who shot my father, not to scream at him, not to yell at him, not to scold him; simply to tell him about Jesus,” she said. That is being salt and light in a very dark world. But clearly, we need more Shelbys. More than two-thirds of the country's most populous cities have seen more homicides in 2021 than last year, a continuation of the troubling increase in homicides that began at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, according to a CNN analysis of over 40 major cities. The spikes come after there was a 45% increase in the police retirement rate and a nearly 20% increase in resignations from officers in 2020-2021 compared to the previous year, according to a June survey from the Police Executive Research Forum. 2020 was already a bloody year in cities across the nation, FBI data shows. Murders spiked nearly 30% nationally last year compared to 2019 data, notching the largest single-year jump in the bureau’s 60 years of recording such figures. Lawlessness is abounding in other ways as well. The CEOs of Target, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Home Depot and CVS are among a group of 20 retail leaders who sent a letter Thursday to Congress expressing their concern over a recent wave of brazen store robberies in major US cities and urged lawmakers to take action. Organized retail theft has jumped nearly 60% from 2015. "The gangs are much more dangerous for retailers and for customers shopping in stores," said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail. "The problem is that while store security and associates can take individual shoplifters to task, they are not able to do much against gangs as they are outnumbered." Clearly, this nation needs the saving grace of Jesus.
The Bible says, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Behind the ever-rising tide of violence, rage and anarchy is the evil one, the devil himself, spreading his wickedness in increasing intensity. The rampant sin in our culture is shocking, but not to our adversary who delights in it. But as Martin Luther so famously said: “Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.” Pray for the resolve to stand for His Truth.
If someone asked you “What is the Gospel”, how would you answer? The command in 1 Peter 3:15 to “always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” presupposes a faith that causes us to live out our hope in Christ visibly before others. When unbelievers see a Christian’s great hope in the face of persecution or suffering, they will naturally want to know the reason for that hope (Matthew 5:16). Are you prepared to share the Gospel?
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