WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY – Dec 19, 2018
In this week's Intersect, read about:
THE LATEST SURVEY ABOUT CHRISTMAS CONFIRMS A NATIONAL TREND
A new study from Lifeway Research reveals that “most Americans want more religious meaning to the Christmas season.” Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said, “Christmas should be more about Jesus.” While that might sound like good news for Christians, the number of Americans who want to “keep Christ in Christmas” - while still a majority - is quickly declining. Just four years ago, 79% of Americans (14% more than this year) agreed that “Christmas should be more about Jesus.” read more
The study also uncovered another interesting data point. The number of people who think Christmas should be about Jesus is shrinking (down 14%), even though the number of people who think Christmas shouldn’t be about Jesus isn’t growing (only up 1%). The most significant shift over the past four years is the number of people who are simply unsure (up 13%). The fact that 13% of Americans are uncertain if Christmas should be about Jesus should remind us that many people still have not understood the significance of the birth of Jesus and the good news of the Gospel (Luke 1-24). We need to spread the true meaning of Christmas.
Pray for the people you will interact with between now and Tuesday. Pray for God to give you opportunities to share the Gospel and pray for the Holy Spirit to reach their hearts.
Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel with those God has placed in your life. Maybe a neighbor, co-worker, or family member needs you to share your story with them. Read three tips for sharing Jesus with others this Christmas. Consider inviting someone to a Christmas Eve Service at your church and share why the Christmas season is significant to you.
CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS BACK LGBT LEGISLATION IN EXCHANGE FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY PROTECTIONS
In the last few months, two major Christian organizations endorsed principles that would make sexual orientation, and gender identity (SOGI) protected classes under federal anti-discrimination laws. The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) both passed motions affirming the need for SOGI legislation and argued that this is the only way to ensure the preservation of religious liberty. read more
The Christian community is divided on CCCU and NAE’s decision. Shirley Mullen, President at Houghton College, sits on the boards of both organizations and wrote, “As Christian higher educators, we are increasingly persuaded that the most viable political strategy is for comprehensive religious freedom protections to be combined with explicit support for basic human rights for members of the LGBT community.” Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that while the goals of the motions are laudable, they are mistakes. He said, “No one would be against a prohibition of unjust discrimination. But everything hinges on what exactly is meant by these words. And that points to a profound problem. These kinds of compromises or at least apparent compromises, they are actually predicated on a moment in political history in which you have two sides that are facing off, and they agree to a common language, but in reality, in all honesty, they hold to two very different understandings of what the words mean.” Scripture is clear in Genesis 1:26-28, God created male and female. While some Christians want to include special language and protection for the LGBTQ community, there are other Christians who believe everyone deserves to be shown respect and love and to single out one group of people over another actually discriminates against other groups of people. Read more about this on BreakPoint. It’s essential for us as Christians to remember that truth and love or not mutually exclusive (Ephesians 4:15). We can love the LGBTQ community well while also standing on the truth of God’s word.
Pray today for the universities in your city or town. Pray for both the state campuses and private universities and colleges as they deal with LGBTQ issues on their campus. Pray for Christians on campus to have the boldness to speak the truth in love and be advocates of a biblical worldview.
I encourage you to look up three of the top campuses in your city here and learn about their policies on LGBTQ discrimination policies. As active members of our communities, we need to know what ideas and policies our local colleges and universities are supporting.
DETAINED CHINESE PASTOR WRITES POWERFUL LETTER
Prominent Chinese pastor Wang Yi penned a powerful letter about civil disobedience, which he instructed to be published should he ever be detained by government authorities for more than 48 hours. Wang is the pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, was arrested alongside some 100 Christian congregants over the weekend, following threats from government officials to shutter the church by the end of the year. The pastor’s letter frequently references the brevity of life, reminding the Chinese people there is more to come after this life and the sufferings and successes of the present pale in comparison to eternity. read more
Hostility toward Christians is growing. The Chinese Communist Party is trying to establish a totalitarian rule of Chinese society, and they see Christians standing in the way. Yi Wang and his wife face 15 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power,” and many of the church leaders are also still detained. Mr. Wang is a leading public figure in China. He was named in 2005 as one of the 50 most prominent public intellectuals in China. He visited the White House and President Bush in 2006 and founded his Church, Early Rain, in 2008. His sermons often touched on societal issues such as issues with a government-run church and opposition to abortion in China. Yi’s letter said in part, “For this reason, I accept and respect the fact that this communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily. As the Lord’s servant 16th-century theologian John Calvin said, wicked rulers are the judgment of God on a wicked people, the goal being to urge God’s people to repent and turn again toward Him. For this reason, I am joyfully willing to submit myself to their enforcement of the law as though submitting to the discipline and training of the Lord.” I encourage you to read Pastor Yi’s full letter - it is powerful. His letter reminds me of Paul who wrote, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Jesus said there would be persecution for those who follow Him (2 Timothy 3:12), but there is also a blessing for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Matthew 5:10). Our brothers and sisters in Christ will receive a heavenly reward that will far outweigh the persecution of this life.
Pray for Pastor Wang Yi, his wife, and the 100 other Church members who have been detained or face charges from the Chinese Government. Pray for God to sustain them and give them his peace in the midst of persecution. And, most importantly, pray for the Gospel to spread.
Pastor Wang and his congregation are not the only Christians in prison for their faith in China. Sadly, there are many others. China Aid provides an opportunity for Christians to write letters to encourage our brothers and sisters detained in China. Consider taking a few minutes today to write a letter.
FEDERAL JUDGE RULES OBAMACARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL
A federal judge in Texas on Friday ruled the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was unconstitutional based on its mandate requiring that people buy health insurance, a decision in a case that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law. The coalition of states challenging the law was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, both Republicans. O’Connor ruled that under the logic of the landmark 2012 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law, the individual mandate, which required that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a tax, is now unconstitutional. In the 2012 ruling, a majority of the justices concluded that the individual mandate unconstitutionally imposed a requirement that Americans buy insurance. However, a different majority held the mandate amounted to a constitutional tax penalty. On Friday, O’Connor ruled that after Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill passed by Congress last year that eliminated the penalties, the individual mandate could no longer be considered constitutional. read more
In another significant decision last week, federal Judge Brimmer ruled in favor of Christian groups that had challenged the Obamacare contraceptive mandate which forced them to provide birth control to their employees despite their religious objections. This decision is significant because it finally brings closure to this long-lasting lawsuit. Six groups jointly filed the suit: the Association of Christian Schools International, Samaritan Ministries International, Taylor University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Alliance Defending Freedom and Asbury Theological Seminary. Alliance Defending Freedom issued a statement celebrating the decision that read in part, “These faith-based organizations no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs that they teach and espouse, and they are no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization. The government has many other ways to ensure access to these items without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”
Thank you, Lord, for these victories for people of faith and people who value the sanctity of life! Pray for the judges in your local community, your state, and the federal level to issue decisions that align with the Constitution.
Take a minute to look up the midterm election results for judges in your state. Consider putting their names on your fridge, on a mirror, or in a place where you will see them. Our judges make hundreds of decisions every day that affect our communities and our nation. They need our prayers.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.