WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY – Jan 16, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
THE 7 PEOPLE CHRISTIANS TRUST MORE THAN THEIR PASTORS
Though the Bible describes shepherds of the church as “blameless,” (Titus 1:6), “upright” (Titus 1:8), and “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2), Americans—even Christians—take a much more pessimistic view. According to a new Gallup Survey, the country’s perception of pastors fell to a record low in 2018. Fewer than half of American Christians (42%) believe clergy have “high” or “very high” standards of honesty and ethics, according to breakouts provided to Christianity Today. Self-identified Christians were about as likely to rate clergy’s ethical standards as just average (43%), and about 1 in 10 (12%) considered them “low” or “very low.” Among Americans as a whole, trust in the clergy fell to 37 percent, making it the eighth-most-trusted profession in the country—ranking below multiple medical professions, teachers, and police and just above journalists and building contractors. read more
For 40 years Gallup has been measuring the nation’s perspective on the trustworthiness of various professions. In 1985 members of the clergy had a high rating of two-thirds of Americans saying they greatly trusted them. However, ever since then, the percentage has gradually declined over the past decades. The high number of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in the early 2000s contributed to this as well as the recent #MeToo movement. The most trusted profession are those who work in the medical field. Nurses rate at 84%, doctors at 67% and pharmacists 66%. It comes as no surprise to most people that Congress is at the bottom of the list at a just 8%. Scripture explains that leaders in the church are held to a higher standard. 1 Titus 1:6, “An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife... Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.” And again, in James 3:1 there is a warning, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College says, “I think we are living in an era when expertise and authority are under attack in a variety of areas, whether it be religion, politics, or academic life. Our society’s distrust of clergy may be part of the general distrust of authority that comes with certain forms of populism.” The cultural moment we find ourselves in should challenge us not to rely solely on pastors or priests to lead others to the Gospel. With a low number of Americans trusting them, it means we must live out the great commission and share Christ’s love with others. It is more likely a friend, co-worker, or neighbor will turn to us in their time of need rather than to a pastor or priest.
Spend time today praying for your pastor, priest, or church leader. Pastors are under enormous pressure from so many areas. They are human, susceptible to temptations and sin just as much as you or me. They need our prayers for their walk with the Lord, their families, and for God’s continued wisdom as they shepherd the flock God has entrusted to them (Jeremiah 3:15).
I encourage you to take a few minutes today and send a note to your pastor, priest, and or church elders and let them know you are praying for them this week. Our pastors are always giving, serving and praying for others. You may be surprised how this simple act can truly bless them.
YOUNGEST BLACK LEGISLATOR ELECTED IN WEST VIRGINIA
The 19-year-old Richwood High School graduate waited for the results on Nov. 6 with his mom and dad at McDonald’s in Summersville. “I was so nervous I hadn’t eaten a thing all day,” Caleb Hanna said. Monitoring the race on his iPhone, it wasn’t until 10:30 that night that he learned he had soundly defeated three-term incumbent, Webster County Democrat Dana Lynch. At that moment, Hanna became the youngest African-American in America to be elected to a state legislature, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. His faith informs much of his worldview. He was an active member of the Christian organization YoungLife at Richwood High School. He is also a member of the Little Laurel Baptist. His girlfriend, a freshman at WVU, is the daughter of a pastor at another church. read more
Hanna said, “I first got interested in politics in the third grade. Here was this charismatic black man who rose to be president of the United States. I thought, ‘I can do that.’” President Obama was Hanna’s inspiration, but he does not align with President Obama’s policies. Hanna explained, “My dad got laid off in the mines. I felt Obama’s policies were bad for West Virginia.” So what values does Hanna champion? In his words, “God, guns and babies. That pretty much sums up my political philosophy.” Hanna has attracted the national spotlight because of his achievement at such a young age and he now has an opportunity to stand boldly on his faith. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
Pray for Caleb Hanna as he begins his term in the West Virginia legislature. Pray that he would set an example for others in the way he conducts himself and shows the love of Christ to others.
It’s encouraging to see someone so young engaged in the political progress. If we hope to see the next generation continue to preserve the principles of freedom in America, we must teach and equip the next generation of leaders. Take a minute to check out Patriot Academy. They provide student leadership training throughout the country, specializing in applied civics with a Biblical, Historical, and Constitutional foundation.
TODAY WE CELEBRATE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY
Since 1993, the President has annually proclaimed January 16, "Religious Freedom Day." This commemoration marks the passage on January 16, 1786, of a significant document authored by Thomas Jefferson: the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Thomas Jefferson penned the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom in 1777 and saw it become law in 1786. He considered it one of the most important accomplishments of his life. In fact, he listed the statute alongside the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the University of Virginia as the achievements to be included in his epitaph. According to Jefferson, people have a "natural right" to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences. Using the force of law either to coerce professions of faith or to deny civil rights because of them is wrong. read more
Today is an opportunity for us to reflect on the unique religious freedom we have in America. It’s a moment to look back over the past and be grateful for the sacrifices that have led to our liberty, and it’s a chance for us to look forward to the responsibility we have to preserve religious freedom for future generations. What we have in America is rare in comparison to the rest of the world. An article this week highlighted, again, the horrific persecution of the Christian Church in China where pastors are being jailed and churches forced to close. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in China need our prayers. However, in another part of the world, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Sunni Arab Muslim President of the world's largest Arab country, Egypt, has built and recently opened a church, which is the largest in the Middle East. It was given as a gift to the Christians of Egypt. This is a remarkable change given the environment there just a few years ago.
Pray today for the persecuted church around the world that they would stand strong in the midst of their trial and that the Gospel would spread because of their faithfulness. And pray for the church in America to wake up to the unique responsibility we have to preserve religious freedom for future generations.
Our friend, Kirk Cameron, made a fascinating documentary a few years ago called “Monumental.” Watch a clipfrom the movie that explains the National Monument to the Forefathers, formerly known as the Pilgrim Monument. The monument commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims and honors their ideals of Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty that would later be embraced and used as guiding principles by our founding fathers.
ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE WILLIAM BARR’S CONFIRMATION HEARING
President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, told senators during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he supports the President’s call for new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border while departing from the president’s public stances on the Russia probe. Asked about the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, Barr said, "I would like to see a deal reached whereby Congress recognizes that it's imperative to have border security, and part of border security, as a common-sense matter, involves barriers.” But Barr – who pledged during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing to not interfere with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation – also asserted his independence from Trump on statements related to the probe. Under questioning, Barr said he doesn’t believe “Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt” – something the president has repeatedly argued. Barr said he has known Mueller “personally and professionally for 30 years,” having worked together at the Justice Department. Barr also unequivocally said he believes Russia attempted to interfere with the election and said he supports an investigation "to get to the bottom of it." read more
If confirmed, this would be Barr’s second time serving as Attorney General of the United States. He first served from 1991 to 1993 under George H. W. Bush and was unanimously approved by the Senate. President Trump nominated Barr in December after Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned. Barr must receive a simple majority of votes in the Senate to secure the nomination. Republicans hold 53 seats out 100 in the Senate. If you missed it you can read Barr’s full opening remarks during the Senate confirmation hearing. He said in part, “I believe this as strongly today as I did 27 years ago – indeed, more strongly. We live in time when the country is deeply divided. In the current environment, the American people have to know that there are places in the government where the rule of law – not politics – holds sway, and where they will be treated fairly based solely on the facts and an even-handed application of the law. The Department of Justice must be such a place.” Scripture is clear that justice is needed. Proverbs 24:24-25, “Whoever says to the guilty, ‘You are innocent,’ will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.” At the same time we are also instructed to love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).
Pray for the confirmation hearings - for both William Barr and the Senators doing their job - to ask Mr. Barr questions on behalf of the American people. Pray for the process to be filled with integrity and a desire to uphold the Constitution for the benefit of all Americans.
This hearing should remind us again just how much Congress needs our prayers. Take a few minutes to pray today for your representatives and send them a note with our quick and easy tool, letting them know you are praying for them this session!
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