WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - DECEMBER 9, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Pro-Life Doctor Defeats Pro-Abortion Democrat in Iowa Congressional Race by Just 6 Votes
A pro-life woman seeking a Congressional seat in Iowa has defeated her pro-abortion Democrat opponent by just six votes, as the state certified its election results. A state board certified Iowa Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks as the representative-elect of Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District over Rita Hart, to replace a retiring Democrat who supports abortion. All 24 counties conducted a recount of results in Iowa’s Second Congressional District and the official numbers following the recount show Mariannette Miller-Meeks winning over Rita Hart by six votes, 196,964-196,958. It’s the closest race in the country, and a legal challenge to the results is likely. The national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) celebrated the victory and informed LifeNews.com that Miller-Meeks is the 18th new pro-life woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives this year, joining 11 returning incumbents. Of the 18 newly-elected women, ten have flipped seats formerly held by pro-abortion Democrats. read more at LifeNews.com
Democrat candidate Rita Hart announced she will be contesting the election results in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to federal law, a candidate can choose whether to contest election results in court or directly in the House, which will assemble a panel to review the results and recommend which candidate they think won. A simple majority of the entire House will then vote to either seat one of the candidates or redo the election. This process could take several months. Regardless who ends up filling this particular seat, Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the influential pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, pointed out, “The exponential growth of pro-life women in the House is reflective of the fact that life has gone from being viewed as a political problem to a winning issue.” The election of more pro-life candidates also suggests that more Christians are seeing this issue as a spiritual battle we are responsible for fighting in every arena of life, including politics. We observed this in the fact that God brought us three times the number of volunteers we expected for our postcard-writing campaign in the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs! In one of those races, the candidate running against the incumbent pro-life senator has stated that abortion, which he calls “reproductive justice”, is consistent with his Christian views. He apparently forgets the stern warning in Psalm 94 against those who “kill the widow and the sojourner and murder the fatherless.” The Georgia elections will determine who will sit in crucial judicial and federal official seats in the event of a Biden presidency. Joe Biden has reportedly named California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra is currently prosecuting pro-life journalist David Daleiden for his undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s corruption. Becerra also attempted to require pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise and refer abortion, a case that was struck down by the Supreme Court. As a former congressman in 2000, Becerra voted against a ban on the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion. Since U.S. Senators are responsible for confirming cabinet appointments, the two Georgia race outcomes could prevent such extreme appointees from being confirmed. If you are interested in volunteering to help Christians turn out to vote in Georgia, we encourage you to sign up at our website. Our work doesn’t stop with political involvement, though. Reports from the CDC show that over 600,000 abortions are committed every year in America. Building a culture of life occurs when each of us takes on this responsibility to Think, Pray, and Act in every area of our life.
Ask God to help all Christians view the sanctity of life as their Biblical responsibility and to champion it by using our unique gifts and talents. Continue to be in prayer for the January 5th Georgia Senate runoffs, that Christians will speak up and vote for the unborn who do not have a voice.
The Abortion Survivors Network is a much-needed organization whose mission is to “provide help, hope and a voice to abortion survivors and all who are silenced and impacted by abortion so that we may build a culture where every human being is seen as more than a choice.” Take a few moments to read or watch some of their powerful stories and consider if anyone in your life would benefit from them.
33 Million Californians Face COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order That Will Restrict Movements and Business
A new stay-at-home order is imposed on Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, as the coronavirus crisis spirals out of control with a speed that has exceeded health officials' most dire projections. Some 33 million Californians will be subject to the new order, representing 84% of the state’s population. The state mandated the restrictions in the Southland and Central Valley as capacity at hospitals' intensive care units hit dangerously low levels. Five Bay Area counties will also begin lockdown restrictions in the coming days despite not yet reaching the threshold at which such action is mandated by the state. The rules are less sweeping than California's pioneering stay-at-home order in the spring, which is credited with slowing the first COVID-19 wave. But the new order will change daily life for many, especially in suburban Southern California counties like Orange and Ventura, which so far have enjoyed more open economies than hard-hit Los Angeles County. Read more at Yahoo News
The mayor of Los Angeles caused a stir when his office issued the order requiring “all persons living within the City of Los Angeles to remain in their homes.” The order goes as far as banning all forms of travel, including walking. Unlike previous lockdown orders, Mayor Garcetti’s decree does offer an exemption for “places of worship,” but with significant caveats. Regarding churches in California, the US Supreme Court acted Thursday in a move that's giving new hope to churches and pastors in California who haven't been able to meet due to Gov. Gavin Newsom's efforts to block church gatherings. In a brief unsigned order with no noted dissents, the high court tossed out an order from the federal trial court in the Central District of California, which had upheld Newsom's restrictions. The justices sent the dispute back to the lower court for further consideration in light of its 5-4 decision last week in a similar challenge to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's restrictions on houses of worship. In a season that is supposed to be filled with the joy and anticipation of Christmas, it’s hard to read any news without seeing stories of the emotional, financial, physical, and spiritual toll that COVID-19 is having on everyone. But as a few lines from the Christmas song, O Holy Night, says, “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” After all, that’s how this season has felt, isn’t it? At the end of a year that has seemed about a decade long, we’re collectively exhausted. Worn out. Weary. We have watched so many holidays and special occasions and even simple day-to-day activities get canceled and postponed. When Jesus was born under less-than-ideal circumstances 2000 years ago, he was born into a weary world. Since the fall of mankind, beginning with Adam and Eve, the Jewish people had been awaiting their Messiah. They had experienced slavery, famine, war, and plagues; they’d spent years wandering in the desert; they’d endured generations of anxiety and uncertainty as they watched, waited, and wondered. When would their King arrive? When would redemption come? When would they, at long last, see a light at the end of a very dark and weary tunnel? On the night of our dear Savior’s birth, He brought, as the song says, a thrill of hope. The trials we face today are real. The suffering we experience today is real. But the hope we find in Jesus Christ is also real. And unlike the things of this world, it’s eternal. Scripture reminds us that as believers, we “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We know that the sorrows and tribulations of this world will one day pass away, and in their place will be an eternity spent with our Lord. There is indeed a Light at the end of this dark and weary tunnel. And He, my friend, is why we celebrate Christmas.
Last week, the Governor of Oklahoma called for a day of prayer and fasting for his state. Gov. Stitt stated, “I believe we must continue to ask God to heal those who are sick, comfort those who are hurting, and provide renewed strength and wisdom to all who are managing the effects of COVID-19.” May we do the same for every state in our nation, asking God for strength, wisdom, and for a mighty move of His presence, that hearts would turn to Him and know that in Him there is hope and life.
The pandemic is affecting everyone. Chaplain John Cherico serves as a lead chaplain in the Hennepin County Jail system in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He describes the current situation in the jail with heartbreaking reality saying, “Right now the jail feels like a pot on a slow boil, as the rising temperature of anxiety and stress is felt by inmates and staff. We have had a spike of COVID-19 cases that prompts a ‘rolling lockdown’. This means that every inmate, regardless of the charge they face, is locked in his or her cell for 23 hours, every day. NO JAIL MOVEMENT, is the order of the day. Court dates are pushed back or cases are reviewed virtually. For first-timers, this situation is very stressful and frightening. With no end in sight, the staff is struggling to manage the tide of emotion, rumbling just below the surface. There are days when this jail becomes a very dark place. Lately, it has been darker, sadder, and more emotionally charged than ever. Please pray that I can keep my head up and keep going. Also, pray that more partners will decide to support this ministry. Covid-19 has made it almost impossible for me to meet with churches, groups, and individuals to accomplish fund-raising, by sharing about this ministry. Nevertheless, I believe with all my heart that the Lord is still in control. This is the season of Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. The Lord God is always with us. That’s why we remain buoyant with hope.” Pastor Cherico is not alone and there are many who are serving a great need within the prison system. Learn more about Good News Jail and Prison Ministry and consider supporting a chaplain, like John Cherico, serving in the US and around the world.
Number of North Koreans exposed to Bible increasing annually despite persecution: report
The percentage of North Korean citizens who are exposed to the Bible is steadily increasing every year despite extreme persecution, according to a new report that investigates and analyzes the conditions of religious freedom in the Hermit Kingdom. The annual White Paper on Religious Freedom in North Korea from The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights found that the number of North Koreans who responded that “they have an experience of seeing the Bible” increased by 4% each year since 2000. Before 2000, only 16 people claimed to have seen a Bible. After 2000, up to 559 North Korean defectors said they had “seen a Bible,” even though religious literature is banned in the isolated country. Despite limited data, NKDB began its survey on religious persecution in 2007. For this year’s survey, the group collected information from 1,234 people and 1,411 cases of religious persecution. read more at the Christian Post
Can you imagine having never seen a Bible, or heard that there is a God who loves you? In that same report, over 38% of respondents said they knew nothing about religion when they were in North Korea. It is a sad thing to not have the opportunity to learn God’s wonderful truth, but it is also a tragedy when those who do have the opportunity do not take advantage of it. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher of the World Evangelical Alliance, which represents over 600 million evangelicals worldwide, warned that “beyond all theological differences, financial problems, and political questions, “our biggest problem is that Bible knowledge is fading away.” He explained that although the conversion rate to Christianity is high worldwide, “it's extremely difficult to follow up with discipling, with teaching, with Bible knowledge…. The result is that people know much less and are more...much more open to secularism and strange things like the ‘health and wealth’ gospel.” How can Christians be salt and light if they don’t know what that entails? As Dr. Tony Evans says, “In order to live by a biblical standard, you have to know what the biblical standard is. That’s where so much of our society has gone wrong. We have gotten too far away from God’s Word.” If we hope to withstand the growing hostility towards our faith, we must take our responsibility to be good disciples and disciple-makers seriously. American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned for his faith in Turkey for two years, recently warned that hostility will continue to increase for American Christians, regardless of who is in the White House. In his interview with the Daily Wire, he urged Christians to be prepared: “I believe the pressures that we’re seeing in our country now are going to increase, and one of these pressures is going to be hostility toward people who embrace Jesus Christ and his teaching, who are not ashamed to stand for him,” Brunson continued. “My concern is that we’re not ready for this pressure. And not being prepared is very, very dangerous on a number of levels.” Let us take the advice from 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
Pray the words of 1 Peter 5:8-9 for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted in North Korea and around the world, including those facing pressure here in America. Ask God to help you grow in your faith so you can disciple those around you.
Dallas Theological Seminary is offering a free seminary class called “The Story of Scripture.” I was required to take the class for my degree, and it was one of my favorites! It is designed to help you understand how the whole Bible points to Jesus. You can enroll in this class at any time for free at this link: https://courses.dts.edu/register/the-story-of-scripture/
Visa, Mastercard Investigating Their Business Ties with Pornhub
Credit card giants Visa and Mastercard said Sunday that they are investigating their business relationship with Pornhub after a prominent newspaper columnist alleged that the pornographic website shows videos of rape and underage sex. Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at The New York Times, wrote Friday that Pornhub carries rape scenes, revenge pornography and other examples of explicit video taken without consent of the participants. Pornhub did not respond immediately to a request for comment. In a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday, Pornhub said it is “irresponsible and flagrantly untrue’’ to suggest that it allows images of the sexual abuse of children on its site. Pornhub added that it employs moderators to screen every upload and that it removes illegal material. The online payment service PayPal last year stopped processing payments to Pornhub, which is owned by the pornography conglomerate MindGeek. The columnist called out other card issuers for working with the site. In response to Kristof’s story, Visa and Mastercard said they’re investigating the matter. “We are aware of the allegations, and we are actively engaging with the relevant financial institutions to investigate, in addition to engaging directly with the site’s parent company, MindGeek,” Visa said Sunday. Visa added that if Pornhub is violating the law or bank policies, then the website will be prohibited from accepting Visa payments. Meanwhile, Mastercard promised “immediate action” if the allegations are substantiated. Read more at MarketWatch
Upon researching this story, here is what is truly shocking. According to a recent study, the Pornhub website, after Facebook and Google, has had the greatest impact on society in the 21st century, playing an integral part of everyday life for millions. It attracts 3.5 billion visits a month, more than Netflix and Amazon. Three of the top ten most visited websites in the world are adult sites. When you dig deeper into the porn epidemic, humans have spent over one million years watching porn, just since 2015. Surveys indicate 79 percent of American men between the ages of 18 and 30 admit to watching porn regularly. 67 percent of men between 31 and 49 admit to it. Statistics of church-going men are not any different and there is a growing rate in the number of women watching porn as well. In 2015, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received reports of 6.5 million videos or other files concerning child sexual exploitation. In 2017, it was 20.6 million. In 2019, it was 69.2 million. While Visa and Mastercard are now taking notice, so is Congress. Senator Ben Sasse (NE) is asking the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the website and Senator Josh Hawley (MO) will be introducing new legislation to try to stop the exploitation. American Express, it should be noted, said its current company policy prohibits the use of an Amex card for “digital adult content websites.” Josh McDowell, writer, speaker, and evangelist, said in an interview with The Christian Post that, "Porn is by far the greatest cancer ever to the church," noting that the problem is particularly relevant given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic causing more people to be at home on their devices. "It is right at this moment destroying more churches, more pastors, more marriages, more people's lives, more relationships than any one thing has ever done simultaneously in history," he stressed. These issues are not going away as long as society continues to deny the real, proven harms of porn and a vast majority of people believe the lie that it’s harmless. Right now, the industry is simply supplying what people are demanding. The only way this epidemic changes is if we stop, re-examine reality, get educated about the devastating effects of pornography, make intentional changes in what we view on the internet, and be willing to find accountability with others.
Lord, technology has helped the world in many ways, but it has also proven to be a snare into sin through the lure of pornography. We pray against this temptation that has the power to damage families and scar the spirit of both the one who views pornography and those who love those caught up in this trap. Help keep our minds on You in such a powerful way that pornography holds no allure. Give us the wisdom to remove temptations that we cannot resist, and to always keep You first in our hearts and minds.
Josh McDowell Ministries has compiled extensive resources and information to help you be more prepared to support those around you to heal from pornography addiction or even find healing for yourself. A great service called Covenant Eyes can be installed on devices to help filter anything you do not want kids to be exposed to, but it also helps to keep each other accountable in what is being viewed on your devices. Finally, read 1 Corinthians 10:13, and look for the “way of escape” that He promises to provide.
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.