WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY – Mar 20, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Nebraskan Heros Pull Together Amid Worst Flood In Half a Century
Two people have been confirmed dead in Nebraska after heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding across the state. Governor Pete Ricketts has declared a state of emergency in 53 counties, with experts describing it as the worst period of flooding in recent state history.
“This is the largest widespread amount of flooding we’ve had in the last half-century,” Ricketts said of the shocking torrent. Witnesses to the horror said that rivers quickly split their banks, and the waters began rising to 25 feet and higher, causing residents to scramble onto their roofs for safety. Rancher Paul Allen was one of those who the dreaded early morning wake-up call to inform him that the Spencer Dam, located five miles up-river from his house, had been “compromised.” There was a raging rapid of frigid water headed his way, and fast. read more
From Nebraska to Wisconsin, over 10 million people were under flood warnings this weekend. Farmers, in an already fragile situation, have been particularly impacted by the flooding. According to a news release, the level of the Missouri River at a nuclear power plant in Cooper, Nebraska climbed to 42.5 feet, or 899.05 feet above sea level. The plant itself sits at 903 feet above sea level. Thus far, 300 people have been rescued from the floods. Such devastating news makes many feel helpless but it emboldens others to offer help. James Wilke was the latter. Putting aside his farming responsibilities, James worked with emergency responders to assist those stranded due to the rising water. He was on his way to help someone when a bridge collapsed. Tragically, James lost his life trying to save someone’s life. James was a husband, dad, grandfather, and an elder at Christ Lutheran Church. This morning, we can add hero to that list. It is hard to imagine good coming out of this, but we know God specializes in using all things (both good and bad) for His good purposes (Genesis. 50:20, Romans 8:28). The floods have brought tragedy, but our God can redeem this tragedy for His glory and our good. The same rain that brings hurt can also bring hope (Deuteronomy 28:12).
Pray for the families who lost loved ones. Pray for the rescue workers as they seek to find the missing people. Pray for comfort and peace for those who have lost their earthly possessions. Ask that God would use this situation for good and pray that those affected by the flood would look to the Lord in this tragic time.
The Salvation Army has set up a special donation tab on their website to help those affected by the flood. You can learn how to help and make a donation here.
Ohio Student Suspended After Posting Bible Verses Around School
A high school student in Ohio is speaking out after she was suspended for posting Bible verses in her school in response to LGBT pride flags displayed in hallways. Gabby Helsinger, a Lebanon High School student, posted a video on Facebook Friday claiming she is being punished for “targeting” the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club. The Lebanon City School Superintendent told Faithwire the school’s Student Code of Conduct does not prohibit the sharing or posting of religious text or imagery at school. He also said religious clubs, including the GSA, are allowed to advertise during school hours.” read more
Was Gabby punished for putting up material without permission or was she punished because of the message in the material? A recent poll found that 57 percent of white evangelical Protestants said that Christians face “a lot of discrimination” in the U.S. today. Some agree, pointing to stories like this. Others disagree, highlighting that 91 percent of Congress identify as Christian and 70 percent of the U.S. population claims to follow Jesus. Rod Dreher, in his book The Benedict Option, observes: “The reality of our situation is indeed alarming, but… there is a hidden blessing in this crisis... Just as God used chastisement in the Old Testament to call His people back to Himself, so He may be delivering a like judgment onto a church and a people grown cold from selfishness, hedonism, and materialism. The coming storm may be the means through which God delivers us.” The world may reject us, but our God has chosen us. Our popularity may wane, but His love will not. (John 15:18, 16:33, Jeremiah 31:3).
Pray for Gabby and for her young heart to not be discouraged and pray for others to come alongside her encouraging her boldness for the Gospel. Ask the Lord to give you more boldness to share His truth with others and to reveal opportunities where you can tell others about the healing love of Christ, no matter the cost.
It’s important for us, as Christians, to know the constitutional rights of our children attending public schools so they are never intimidated or silenced for their faith. Alliance Defending Freedom has a very informative article called, Students don’t have to leave their faith at home, that outlines students’ rights and what schools are prohibited from doing. For example, “Schools can’t prohibit written materials because they are religious or proselytizing.”
Governor Newsom Orders Halt of California’s Death Penalty
Gov. Gavin Newsom is suspending the death penalty in California, calling it discriminatory and immoral, and is granting reprieves to the 737 condemned inmates on the nation’s largest Death Row. “I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people,” Newsom said in a statement accompanying an executive order, declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in the state. “The death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.” He plans to order an immediate shutdown of the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison, where the last execution was carried out in 2006. read more
California Governor Gavin Newsome announced he is putting a moratorium on the death penalty. But would Jesus support the death penalty? Some say no, using social science research and Scripture to buttress their argument. Since 1973, 151 people have been released from death rows here in the US due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. One estimate indicates that at least 340 innocent people may have been executed since 1973. Those against the death penalty often make the point that Jesus ushered in a new way of dealing with sin (Matthew 5:17, John 5:39, Luke 24:27, Romans 12:19). Preston Sprinkle, in his work Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence, notes: “The wages of sin is death, which means that we all… have already been convicted of capital crimes in God’s courtroom and have been given the death penalty. It would be odd—some would say hypocritical—for Christians to thank God for taking their death penalty and then spin around to celebrate the death of someone they think is worse than them.” For those who say yes, they point to research that indicates that each execution carried out correlates with about 74 fewer murders. Biblically, they root their argument in Genesis 9:6 but build it out in Romans 13:1-7. God empowered the government to wield the sword. The state wields the sword to carry out justice, restrain evil, and, if necessary, utilize capital punishment. The word “sword”, as pointed out by Charles Hodge, refers to the weapon used to execute Roman citizens found guilty of capital crimes. You may be for or against the death penalty, but the thief on the cross reminds us that grace is available to all of us.
Pray for the prisoners on death row to come to know the Lord. And pray for the families who have had loved ones murdered by the inmates charged with the death penalty, as they grapple with their grief and the desire for justice.
Prison Fellowship is an incredible Christian organization that shares the Gospel with people who are incarcerated. Take some time to read their helpful article outlining the main arguments Christians have, both in support and in opposition to the death penalty.
Australian Christian Leaders Respond to Christchurch Massacre
49 people lost their lives, including young children, in two New Zealand mosques while a shooter broadcast the horrific live-stream of the terror attack. A 28-year-old Australian-born citizen was in custody after claiming responsibility for the attacks in Christchurch and allegedly posting a white nationalist manifesto immediately before the murder spree. Australian Christian leaders joined many thousands across the world who visited mosques over the weekend to express their solidarity with the Muslim community after last Friday’s terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Meanwhile other church leaders expressed their grief by holding special prayer services and publicly expressing their condemnation of the massacre. read more
The last comparable massacre in New Zealand occurred in 1990. Known as the Aramoana Massacare, David Gray went on a shooting spree and killed 13 people. According to New Zealand’s 2013 Census, 48 percent of New Zealanders identified as Christian, 42 percent said they had no religion, and 1.1 percent identified as Muslim. We don’t know motives, but we do know that a 2018 study of New Zealanders linked news consumption to greater anger towards Muslims. On the other side of the world, another massacre has been taking place without the spotlight of news coverage. Over 120 Christians have been killed and homes destroyed by Muslim militants in Nigeria. The Fulani jihadists, who have become a greater threat to Nigerian Christians than the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, stormed the villages of Inkirimi, Dogonnoma, and Ungwan Gora in the Kajuru Local Government Area last Monday, destroying 143 homes, killing 52 people, and wounding dozens more. Our world is in turmoil. We may not have words, but He is The Word (John 1). Spurgeon was right: “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.” (Mark 4:22).
Pray for the families that have lost their loved ones in these horrific attacks around the world, that they would feel Christ’s comfort and peace. As we are all image-bearers of our Creator, pray with urgency for all to come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Watch apologist Ravi Zacharias answer the question: How to present the Gospel to a Muslim? As Christians, our hearts should not only grieve for those who lost their lives in this terrorist attack, but it should spur us on to love Muslims and share the truth of the Gospel with them.
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.