WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - NOVEMBER 25, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
30-Year Military Chaplain Fired from Air Force – His Crime? Biblical Views on Sexual Morality
A former Air Force chaplain wants to enlist believers in his fight for religious freedom. Curt Cizek preached a message that he says led to his dismissal from the military. “Men put so much of who they are into what they do and having that rug pulled out from underneath me was difficult to go through,” Cizek said. He says he had never been punished for preaching until a sermon he preached to recruits in 2013 at Lackland Air Force Base. It included scriptures about sexual immorality. “The message was about sin that we don’t think is that bad,” Cizek said. “If you’re having sex with somebody that you’re not married to, then you need to stop. I said, ‘you know, sometimes the Christian church has gotten the reputation for being prejudiced because we look at one sin, homosexuality, and then we turn a blind eye and don’t say anything about heterosexual sin, and that’s hypocritical.'” He says what happened was a domino effect that ended in his involuntary discharge. “I found out shortly thereafter that a lesbian trainee had a complaint about the sermon,” Cizek said. “She complained that I said all homosexuals are going to burn in hell. I don’t know what sermon she listened to because that wasn’t what I preached that day.” 2,500 trainees heard that day’s sermon and Cizek says as far as he knows, only one person complained. “My performance reports were down-graded, my promotion recommendation was downgraded. I got passed over for promotion twice and involuntarily separated from the Air Force in 2016.” That means even with almost 30 years of service, nearly 20 of them active duty, he can’t retire from the Air Force. read more at FaithWire
Chaplain Cizek stated, "The truth of the Bible is also on the line. Cancel culture believes that speaking an inconvenient truth is intolerable. The real bigotry that exists today is preventing people from exercising their religious beliefs and freedom of speech." 2 Timothy 4:2 instructs pastors to “preach the word” and the Air Force is attempting to determine what parts of the Word should not be preached. While Cizek is fighting for his religious freedom, he is asking fellow Christians to stand with him. His case is currently being reviewed by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office. “This is a time for conservative Christians to be heard letting their legislators, letting the White House, letting the Air Force, letting the Secretary of Defense know how they feel,” he urged. You can email the White House here. The Apostle Paul tells how one follower of Jesus, Onesiphorus, “was not ashamed” to be associated with Paul, even though he was a prisoner. Rather, Onesiphorus often came to his aid. (2 Timothy 1:15-18) May we all follow his example. On the education front, another religious freedom attack is looming. The Christian Post reported that a prominent LGBTQ activist organization is recommending that presumptive President-elect Joe Biden and his administration execute policy to strip Christian colleges of their accreditation if they hold to the Biblical view of sexuality. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a blog post about the document submitted to Biden: "If the Human Rights Campaign achieves its policy goals, religious institutions will either be coerced into capitulation over fundamental religious and theological doctrines, or they will be marginalized.” He goes on to emphasize, “Accreditation is a more basic and pervasive threat—those colleges or universities would not be permitted to participate in the GI Bill; students would not be allowed to transfer their credits nor would they be allowed to apply for graduate study at other institutions. The threat to accreditation is more basic than the threat to federal funding. It would threaten even institutions that do not receive a single penny of government funding....This [request] comes with chilling specificity and clarity. We dare not miss what is at stake.”
Pray that Christians would continue to stand to maintain the religious freedom of Chaplain Cizek and others like him. And pray for strength for those who are currently under attack for their Christian beliefs. Galatians 6:9-10 instructs us not to grow weary, but to continue to do good to our fellow believers and to everyone, remembering that God promises a reward if we do not give up.
In light of current cultural trends, a great book Christians can read is called Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, by Rod Dreher. In it, he equips Christians to be prepared if we are pressured not just to remain silent about our beliefs, but to affirm lies. You can learn more about and find it through the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
Americans Most Thankful for and to Family This Thanksgiving
Even though the pandemic may change Thanksgiving celebrations this year, Americans still express thankfulness for their family and friends. According to a survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, more than 4 in 5 Americans (84%) say they are thankful for their family. Sizable majorities also note being thankful for health (69%), friends (63%) and memories (63%). Around half-point to personal freedom (53%) and stability (47%). More than 2 in 5 are thankful for fun experiences (45%) and opportunities (42%). A third of Americans will spend Thanksgiving being grateful for their achievements (33%), while 1 in 5 (21%) express thankfulness for their wealth. The average person chose five things on the list for which they are thankful. “In a year that has been difficult for most, Americans still express a lot of thanks,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “This year of loss and division does not mean people have an absence of good things for which to be grateful.” read more at Biblical Recorder News
Thankful to whom? The same survey states that this year, when Americans give thanks on Thanksgiving, most say they express their gratitude toward their family and God. Around 2 in 3 say they typically give thanks to family (68%) and God (67%), while 42% say they are grateful to their friends. As our Honorary National Chairman, Mike Huckabee states, “Here’s the undeniable, historical truth about Thanksgiving: It’s an American holiday explicitly created to remind us that God is the great source of every blessing. Time after time, especially in the face of adversity, our forefathers turned to God — not only to give thanks but to also humbly repent before Him. They understood God’s blessings follow those who obey and seek Him. This Thanksgiving is an opportunity for us to also turn to God in gratitude and repentance.” Thanksgiving—the giving of thanks—to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Jesus Christ. We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our heart and chill our relationship with God and with others. Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness. From one end of the Bible to the other, we are commanded to be thankful. In fact, thankfulness is the natural outflowing of a heart that is attuned to God. There is always something to be thankful for. And as 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Pray through Psalm 100, a Psalm for giving thankful praise today: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
President George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation from 1789 is worth taking time to read. “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor...Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks…and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions.”
Ben Carson Says ‘God is Still in Charge’ After Becoming ‘Desperately Ill’ With COVID-19
Dr. Ben Carson, secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Friday said he “became desperately ill” with COVID-19 but hasn’t given up hope because “God is still in charge.” Carson announced on Nov. 9 that he had tested positive for the infectious disease after he began experiencing symptoms indicative of the coronavirus. In a Facebook post, Carson praised President Trump, members of the White House medical team, and the remarkable doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC. for their care and compassion. “President Trump, the fabulous White House medical team and the phenomenal doctors at Walter Reed have been paying very close attention to my health and I do believe I am out of the woods at this point,” Carson declared. “I was extremely sick and initially took Oleander 4X with dramatic improvement. However, I have several co-morbidities and after a brief period when I only experienced minor discomfort, the symptoms accelerated and I became desperately ill. President Trump was following my condition and cleared me for the monoclonal antibody therapy that he had previously received, which I am convinced saved my life.” read more at FaithWire
While our minds are on those in the vulnerable population during this time with respect to the virus, extremely disturbing reports show that many appear to be dying from other tragic causes. The Associated Press reported on data showing many nursing home residents who did not contract COVID instead died due to neglect or a downward mental spiral likely induced by isolation, which some death certificates labeled as “failure to thrive”. A nursing home expert from the Associated Press estimated that non-COVID deaths since March could total as many as 40,000 beyond the normal death rate for nursing homes. Stephen Kaye, a professor at the Institute on Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, stated that in a crisis, “there are not enough people to look after the nursing home residents.” Additionally, a report by the Belgian affiliate of Amnesty International shows that in the first wave of COVID in Belgium, over half of the deaths were of residents in nursing homes. The report goes on to state that because government authorities were fearful of overwhelming hospitals, roughly half of all nursing home patients who required hospitalization for the virus were hospitalized. The rest were left in their facilities, where they died. This is a tragic example of what happens when a society devalues human life. God does not place value on human life according to ability, and humans have no authority to do so. However, Belgium is known for having the most permissive laws on physician-assisted suicide, extending it to children, those with mental disabilities, and people who have a chronic, but not terminal, illness. Therefore, its government’s neglect of the elderly during the pandemic is sadly not surprising, and should make us concerned about the encroachment of physician-assisted suicide laws in our country. The sanctity of human life must be protected from the womb until natural death, and this certainly includes taking care of the elderly. James 1:27 states that pure and undefiled religion includes visiting “orphans and widows in their affliction.”
Pray for the elderly, and all who are in isolation. Pray that many more would step into the role of caring for our aged, so we could end the problem of understaffed nursing homes and neglected souls. Continue to pray for a growing culture of life.
Crossroads USA is a ministry specifically to nursing home residents that you can get involved with. In addition, check with assisted living and nursing homes in your area to see if they have any needs or opportunities to serve those living there. While COVID has put many restrictions on who can visit, there are still various ways that you can help according to the needs of the facility.
Senate Confirms 225th Trump Judge, a Modern Record for GOP Presidents in One Term
The Senate may be holding a lame-duck session, but that hasn’t slowed down the Republican effort to confirm President Trump’s judicial nominees. The U.S. Senate this week confirmed the 225th federal judge nominated by President Trump, and then confirmed two more, according to a tally by C-SPAN's Craig Caplan. The 225th confirmed judge was Kansas Solicitor General Toby Crouse, who was approved by the Senate to be a U.S. district judge. All total, the Senate has confirmed 227 judges since Trump was inaugurated in 2017. That includes 168 district judges, 53 appeals court judges, three U.S. Supreme Court justices and three members of the U.S. Court of International Trade. The 53 appeals court judges are the most of any president in a single term since President Carter. The 227 confirmed judges are more than any Republican president in a single term in modern history, outpacing Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Reagan and Nixon. Since Election Day, the Senate has confirmed 13 judges. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement this week the Senate won’t slow down in confirming judicial nominees. “While our committees are working, the full Senate is keeping busy with one of our core constitutional responsibilities: continuing to confirm well-qualified men and women to lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary,” McConnell said. read more at Christian Headlines
The impact of federal court judges is seen daily. A three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down local prohibitions on counseling for minors who want to overcome their feelings of same-sex attraction. In the 2-1 decision, Judge Grant stated, “The First Amendment...protects speech itself, no matter how disagreeable that speech might be to the government.” She elaborated, “What good would it do for a therapist whose client sought sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) therapy to tell the client that she thought the therapy could be helpful, but could not offer it?...Speech does not need to be popular in order to be allowed. The First Amendment exists precisely so that speakers with unpopular ideas do not have to lobby the government for permission before they speak.” The types of judges who are confirmed in the future now depends on the outcome of the upcoming U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia. You can view this voter guide from the Faith and Freedom Coalition on the candidates, and send it to your friends in Georgia so they will be equipped to vote for the candidates who will protect religious liberty. The Biblically based Family Policy Alliance of Georgia has endorsed the two Republican candidates, while the LGBTQ organization, Human Rights Campaign, has endorsed the Democrat candidates. This spiritual battle is being played out in the political realm. Will you gear up for battle (Ephesians 6:10-18)?
The first step in any battle is prayer, for “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) Our ministry partner, Intercessors for America, has provided a page for you to post your prayer specifically for the Georgia elections. You can also be encouraged by reading the prayers of others.
If you are like me, you recognize the urgency of the runoff elections and would like to motivate your fellow Christians to vote, but you’re looking for specific ways to do so. We are providing three different action steps you can choose to take when you sign up here. We need volunteers to write postcards to encourage individual Christians to vote. We also need people to make calls encouraging Christians to vote. And lastly, we need people who are willing to go door-to-door in Georgia to motivate voters to vote on or before January 5. Please consider one of these crucial efforts!
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.