INTERSECT | WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY – Aug 8, 2018

In this week's Intersect, read about:


Pope Francis Changes Catholic Church Teaching to Say Death Penalty is “Inadmissible”

Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church teaching to fully reject the death penalty, the Vatican announced Thursday, saying it would work to abolish capital punishment worldwide. The revision of several sentences of the catechism, the compendium of Catholic beliefs, has the potential to recast debates around the world on how to handle those accused of the most heinous crimes. It adds a new wrinkle to the question of what it means to be pro-life — particularly in the United States, where Catholics who support the death penalty sit on the Supreme Court and govern states that permit executions. The church’s updated teaching describes capital punishment as “inadmissible” and an attack on the “dignity of the person.” Previously, the church allowed for the death penalty in very rare cases, only as a means of “defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” read more

THINK.
The death penalty is legal in 53 countries. In the US, execution is still legal in 31 states. 53 percent of U.S. Catholics favor it for persons convicted of murder. Two key questions emerge with this latest move: Is the death penalty viewed as intrinsically evil or merely inadmissible? Has Pope Francis gone too far in his authority? Those for and against the death penalty have used the Scriptures to buttress their arguments. Those against the death penalty often make the point that Jesus ushered in a new way (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.” Those for the death penalty root their argument in Genesis 9:6 but build it out in Romans 13:1-7. God has 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 sword employed to execute Roman citizens found guilty of capital crimes. You may be for or against the death penalty, but as the thief on the cross reminds us, grace and eternity is available to all of us.

PRAY.
Pray for Catholic leaders and conservative lawmakers, that they would be able to navigate around this new addition to the catechism and that they would have wisdom in dealing with the death penalty. 

ACT.
Do you know your position on the death penalty and why you believe your position? Read this article by Prison fellowship to understand what Scripture says to help navigate your position.


Apple Breaches $1 Trillion Stock Market Evaluation

Apple Inc. on Thursday became the first $1 trillion publicly listed U.S. company, crowning a decade-long rise fueled by the ubiquitous iPhone that transformed it from a niche player in personal computers into a global powerhouse spanning entertainment and communications. The tech company’s stock jumped 2.9 percent to end the day at $207.39, giving it a market capitalization of $1.002 trillion. During the session, Apple’s stock market value reached as much as $1.006 trillion. Apple has rallied about 9 percent since Tuesday when it reported June-quarter results above expectations and said it bought back $20 billion of its own shares. It was Apple’s best two-day run since April 2014. read more

THINK.
The average household reports owning more than 2 Apple products and I confess I’m one of those households. 1.3 billion people worldwide own an Apple product. Apple stock rose after its second-quarter results were published and the stock has continued to rise since hitting the $1 trillion mark. If you invested in Apple a decade ago, your investment today would be worth 9 times as much! Investopedia has reported that Apple’s stock should keep increasing due to the company’s growth potential and above average earnings on Apple Watches and Airpods. On the other hand, Facebook’s stock has run into some serious roadblocks in the past few months. The investigation into information leaks and Mark Zuckerberg's robotic attitude in depositions has lead the stock to take some serious hits. In late July, Facebook lost a historic $120 billion in market capitalization, after its earnings report after the market close on Wednesday missed expectations on revenue and showed slowing user growth. Weak guidance also rattled investors. Facebook’s loss was the ugliest single-session decline since the company went public in 2012. As stocks increase, the number of jobs in the U.S. also increase, signaling a bustling economy. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8 percent, extending the longest streak of job growth on record and there are now more job openings than unemployed in our country.

PRAY.
Pray the job market continues to flourish so that more are blessed to be a blessing. Pray to have the perspective of 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. And finally, pray “Father, it all belongs to you. I’m not the owner; I’m the steward. My gifts and talents and time and resources were given to me for your kingdom. Help me to be kingdom focused rather than “me” focused.”

ACT.
Did you know the Bible mentions money more than any other topic? Some years ago, my husband and I benefited greatly from a course by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace University that helped us gain an eye-opening, biblical perspective about our finances. I would highly recommend anyone to take the course here. You can also find an in-depth video series on “Life, Money and Legacy” here.


Weekend Shootings in Chicago Leaves 13 Dead, 72 Wounded

At least 72 people were shot, including 13 fatally, over the weekend in Chicago, another eruption of violence in a city that has struggled with murders and shootings in recent years even as the national homicide rate hovers near historic lows. read more

THINK.
The violence included seven shootings in which three or more people were shot. In one shooting in Chicago’s Gresham neighborhood, eight people were shot — including four teenage girls. Police Patrol Chief Fred Waller said Sunday that in some cases, gang members are using large summer crowds as cover. He says they “shoot into a crowd, no matter who they hit.” Resources at local hospitals were taxed as shooting victims poured in. More than 200 people had converged on Stroger Hospital at one point, and access to the hospital was tightened. Mount Sinai Hospital had to stop accepting new emergency cases for a while, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago is one of the most dangerous cities with regards to gun violence. Shootings always cause politicians to question second amendment rights. In related news, a federal judge on Tuesday blocked the online publication of 3D-printed gun blueprints that lawmakers around the country feared would lead to a wave of easily produced, untraceable firearms. Since making a 3D-printed gun only requires a 3D printer, the right materials, and a blueprint, the concern is that 3D-printed guns will make it easy to bypass a host of state and federal laws. Printing a gun doesn’t require a background check or any documentation, offering a workaround for people who are legally prohibited from buying a gun now due to, say, a criminal record or history of mental illness. Honestly, I thought a 3D gun was “fake news” but learn here how they really do work.

PRAY.
Pray for the families of those killed in Chicago this weekend as they mourn the loss of their loved ones and pray for healing and recovery for those who were wounded (Psalm 34:18). Pray for churches in the Chicago area to rise up to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of the community. And pray for the Mayor and city officials to have the wisdom to address the issues.

ACT.
While gun violence remains a problem in our nation, there are first responders who work tirelessly every day to keep our communities safe. Be encouraged by this story about a Massachusetts police officer’s son who surprised him during his final radio call after 32 years on the force. It is important we take time to appreciate our men and women in blue who put their lives on the line to protect our communities.


Harvest Crusade Forced to Remove Billboards Featuring the Bible

Evangelist Greg Laurie has been forced to take down a series of billboards depicting him holding a Bible, advertising his upcoming Harvest Crusade. The ads had been approved and posted at a popular mall in Southern California. However, after claiming the religious imagery on the ads provoked multiple complaints, including a “serious threat,” the Irvine Company reportedly mandated the billboards be modified. Harvest complied with the request and resubmitted new ad artwork without the image of the Bible. Ultimately, however, the changes were not enough to resolve the situation as the Irvine Company decided to completely remove all the advertisements and billboards for the crusade. read more

THINK.
The Bible depicted in Laurie's hand in the image used did not have a cross, religious symbols, or even the word "Bible" on it. Yet it was too “offensive” to a vocal few and ultimately, to the company who was contracted to display the billboards. But the Harvest Crusade is not a new event to the area. In fact, this year is the 29th anniversary of SoCal Harvest, making it the longest-running large-scale evangelistic event in America's history. The crusade typically draws 90,000 to 100,000 people, all of whom get a chance to hear the Gospel. Where does this censorship stop? What happened to the First Amendment? Why is the Bible so offensive? We are living in very interesting times in our country where religious liberty it is becoming increasingly challenged. On Tuesday, Pastor Laurie was interviewed on the Todd Starnes Radio Show and talked about how our country has gone from when it was governed by our forefathers who emphasized the importance of the Bible to what it is today, where an image of a book, depicting the Bible, is not even allowed on an ad.

PRAY.
As Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Pray for the power of God’s word, the Bible, to continue to transform hearts. Pray for Christians to stand boldly for faith, no matter the cost. And pray for all those who attend the upcoming crusade, that it would be uplifting and eternal-life-changing.

ACT.
The Harvest Crusade will be taking place August 17-19 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. Consider attending or even serving at this awesome and free event. It will also be live-streamed for those who live outside the area. More info can be found here.