In this week's Intersect, read about:
- Canada Beats Midnight Deadline to Join Trade Deal with US and Mexico
- Abortion Pill Mandate for California Universities Vetoed by Gov. Brown
- Study: American Christians Are Erasing the Divide Between ‘Sacred’ and ‘Secular’ Jobs
- Supreme Court Starts New Term Shorthanded
Canada Beats Midnight Deadline to Join Trade Deal with US and Mexico
The U.S. and Canada forged an 11th-hour trade deal late Sunday that will replace the three-nation framework of the original North American Free Trade Agreement.
The new deal, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, represented a "big win" for the White House and a "validation" of President Trump's trade strategy, a senior Trump administration official told reporters on a call Sunday evening. Another official touted the deal as a "great step" for North American relations, as well as its enforceability using measures under the pact and U.S. law before it is periodically reviewed. The officials specifically promoted USMCA's intellectual property provisions, new rules of origin for the automobile industry, and labor requirements as ways to encourage investment and production in the U.S. in a boon for the economy. read more
Under the new agreement, 75 percent of the content in automobiles must originate in North America to qualify for tariff-free treatment, up from 62.5 percent. Between 40-45 percent of auto content must be produced by workers earning at least $16 an hour (Mexico’s hourly average: less than $3; Canada’s: $19.28). But perhaps the most significant sticking point in the agreement is its 16-year term and provision for review after 6 years. This agreement is substantive progress but not yet an actual achievement. Congress has 90 days to read and approve the details due to Trade Promotion Authority rules. And Canada will continue negotiations in an effort to be included. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stressed that a final agreement should include Canada. As we saw yesterday, trade wars can yield undesirable outcomes. The Agriculture Department announced it would begin paying $4.7 billion to farmers in subsidies to offset the effects of the trade wars. The scriptures speak very little about agreements such as NAFTA, but they do stress unity and just agreements. God detests dishonest scales but loves when individuals dwell in unity (Proverbs 11:1, Psalm 133:1).
Pray for our representative leaders to have continued wisdom as they negotiate trade deals with other nations on behalf of the United States. Pray for fair agreements to be reached that benefit all nations involved.
Take a minute to learn five things about the new NAFTA deal.
Abortion Pill Mandate for California Universities Vetoed by Gov. Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a measure that would have required public university student health centers to provide abortion medication by no later than Jan. 1, 2022. Brown noted in his veto message that “the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance.” Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary,” he wrote. To pay for the cost of implementation, the bill would have required $9.6 million in private funding to provide a $200,000 grant to all public universities. It also would have provided a $200,000 grant to both the University of California and California State University systems to provide 24-hour telephone patient support for abortion medication recipients. read more
Thousands of Christians prayed against this measure in California and on Sunday that prayer was answered. Democratic lawmakers have already vowed to reintroduce this legislation in the next session, but for now, California public Universities will not be providing abortions. Another important story out of California this week is regarding Azusa Pacific University. In mid-September, the administrators of the Christian college announced a new administration policy removing its ban on same-sex relationships, but due to an overwhelming response from the Christian community they have reversed their stance and reverted back to their original policy (Psalm 119:5-6). A statement from Azusa University said, “We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waver in our Christ-centered mission. We will examine how we live up to these high ideals and enact measures that prevent us from swaying from that sure footing.”
Pray for the next generation of Americans on university campuses across the country. Pray our Christian Universities would stand boldly on the word of God and students on both secular and Christian campuses would learn of the saving grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16).
Read about the University of Wyoming’s policy to automatically enroll international students in its university health insurance plan, which covers elective abortions. Christians must be aware of what’s happening on our University campuses and must faithfully pray for the sanctity of life to be protected.
Study: American Christians Are Erasing the Divide Between ‘Sacred’ and ‘Secular’ Jobs
According to the Barna Group, five years ago one-third of employed Christians (34 percent) had never even thought about whether they felt “called” to their work. Today that has dropped to 15 percent. Six in 10 working Christian adults believe they’ve been given certain skills and talents to use for God’s glory or for the good of others (61 percent). However, only four in 10 (40 percent) agree strongly that they are aware of what these gifts might be or how they should be applied...” read more
The numbers clearly indicate people are not spending their Sunday mornings in a church building. In Jonathan Merritt’s latest book, Learning to Speak God from Scratch, he highlights that only 7 percent of Americans talk about spiritual matters once a week. 20 percent admit they have not had a spiritual conversation in the last year. 30 percent said, “once or twice.” They might not darken the door of the church, but you can reflect the light of the world in their cubicle. God put you in that place at this point in history. He designed your days and equipped your spirit so that you might live into the fullness of life he died to give you. You don’t have to give a lecture on forensic justification. Be kind. Love well. Work hard. And when the time comes, speak the truth in love (Matthew 5:13-15, Acts 17:26-27, Ephesians 4:31-32, 1 John 4:19-21, Ephesians 4:15).
Take some time today to pray and ask the Lord what skills or gifts has He given you to bring honor and glory to Him through your work and to share the Gospel with others.
Read this article from Crosswalk, “How to identify and effectively use your spiritual gifts.” Take some time to better understand how you can use your natural abilities, and spiritual gifts to bless others and point people toward Christ.
Supreme Court Starts New Term Shorthanded
The Supreme Court starts its new term on Monday, and it will be short-handed on the bench — one of several challenges the justices are facing along with cases dealing with limits on the death penalty, the separation of church and state, and employment discrimination. Sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to succeed former Justice Anthony Kennedy, have already delayed his Senate confirmation and could ultimately sink his nomination. But with or without him the court will be back in session. Whoever is confirmed to replace Kennedy will miss the first oral arguments of the term. The Supreme Court's press office said incoming justices typically don't decide cases that are heard prior to them joining the court. Court watchers say this term as a whole is packed with potential. read more
The White House has given the FBI permission to slightly expand its probe of the Brett Kavanaugh investigation, although Republican Senate leaders still hope to take a vote at the end of this week. The longer the investigation, the more sensational the responses – from both sides. On one side, they claim Kavanaugh is innocent of the accusations and on the other side, forces have pressured Harvard Law to cancel Kavanaugh’s January class, even though the allegations have yet to be proven or even deemed credible. One side continues to emphasize his alleged drinking habits, but as David French points out in the National Review, this fails to address the central question – did he commit sexual assault? According to Rachel Mitchell, counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, such allegations against Kavanaugh are so weak that no “reasonable prosecutor” would pursue the case. In response, Democrats insist: “The question before the Senate is to determine whether Brett Kavanaugh has the suitability and trustworthiness of an individual nominated to serve for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.” With each passing day, the tension grows, and the responses from both sides cause one to wonder what the future will look like. But as Winston Churchill noted, we haven’t made it this far because we are made of sugar candy.
Pray for the Supreme Court as they begin another session. Pray they would uphold the Constitution in their cases and rule justly. And pray that we as a nation would maintain our convictions but gain graciousness in the expression of those convictions (Romans 15:30).
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