Category Archives: Prayer Need

BreakPoint: Jack Phillips Before the Supreme Court “Tolerance Is a Two-Way Street”

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I was honored yesterday to rally in support of Jack Phillips on the steps outside the Supreme Court. Now I’d like to tell you what went on inside.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Eric Metaxas and I have given you the details before, of Colorado master cake designer Jack Phillips who declined to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

As David Brooks wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, “Phillips is not trying to restrict gay marriage or gay rights; he’s simply asking not to be forced to take part.”

Neither the couple or the state of Colorado saw it that way. Phillips was found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination law, and forced to choose between his convictions and losing forty percent of his business. Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court.

While Phillips’s actions were grounded in his religious beliefs, the legal argument was primarily about whether Colorado had violated his right to free speech.  Unlike those commentators who disparaged the idea that creating custom cakes constitutes a form of speech, yesterday the Court took the question seriously.

Phillips’ lawyer, Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that “the first amendment protects bakers such as Mr. Phillips against being forced to express any belief, and that as a custom-cake maker, he sketches, sculpts and hand-paints—in other words, he’s an artist.”

Waggoner had barely gotten started when the questions began.

Responding to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she reiterated that neither she nor her client were challenging his obligation to sell his ordinary wares to everyone. In fact, he offered to sell the couple any already-made cake in his store.

Custom cakes, Waggoner told the Court, were a different matter. The use of writing and symbols convey a message in a way that a cake off the shelf does not.

Inevitably the comparison to race came up. The best answer was given by U. S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Francisco, in response to several justices, argued that discrimination on the basis of race, such as refusing to serve an interracial couple, was different than refusing to participate in a ceremony.

He also argued that upholding Phillips’ free speech rights would not damage civil rights protection because it would only apply to “a small group of individuals” in “narrow circumstances.” However, Justice Breyer disagreed.

But the roughest treatment was reserved for Colorado’s Solicitor General Fred Yarger because of Colorado’s treatment of Phillips throughout the whole ordeal. Justice Kennedy—likely the swing vote in this case—told him that tolerance must go both ways, adding that, “It seems to me the state has been neither tolerant nor respectful” of Jack Phillips views.

He cited a comment by a member of the Civil Rights Commission, who called Phillips’ religious beliefs “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric.” He then asked Yarger to disavow the comment. After Yarger lamely replied that he wouldn’t counsel a client to say a such a thing, Kennedy pressed him, and Yarger disavowed.

It’s never a good thing when a judge asks you to disavow your client’s statement.

So where are we? Justice Kennedy definitely seems troubled by the way Phillips was treated, and it’s encouraging that he insisted tolerance is a “two-way street.”

Heartening as well was Justice Breyer’s asking Yarger if some kind of compromise might be possible. Whatever else Breyer is thinking, he seems to be concerned that Colorado didn’t make sufficient allowance for people with dissenting views.

I can’t tell you whether Phillips will prevail, but there’s reason to be encouraged. It’s also possible that Kennedy could side with Phillips, but in a narrow opinion that would open the floodgate for future cases. Even then, that better, far better than a Phillips loss.

So let’s continue to pray earnestly that Phillips, and freedom, prevails.

 

Jack Phillips Before the Supreme Court: “Tolerance Is a Two-Way Street”

As both John and Eric have stated, this free speech case is extremely important. So continue to pray for the justices of our Supreme Court, that God would guide them in their deliberations and decision in this free speech and religious freedom case.

Resources

Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today | December 5, 2017 

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When you hear, or see North Korea in the news you should be called to pray not to the spirit of fear

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Iran: shock, trauma and crisis

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ABOUT IRAN

  • Primary Language: Persian, Iranian
  • Primary Religion: Islam

The LA Times is reporting at least three dead in grade school shooting in Northern CA.

At least three people are dead following a shooting at an elementary school in Northern California this morning, authorities said.

Among the dead are the gunman, who authorities said was killed by police at the school in Rancho Tehama, near Red Bluff.


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Witnessing for Christ: through the eyes of a persecuted pastor in Sudan

(The following news report comes from Mission Network News. You can read the the story here. )

 

 

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Texas Church Tragedy

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Breakpoint: Teaching the Bible in the schools, and Billy’s thoughts on reaching the students

( Billy’s thoughts – Before I post today’s Breakpoint radio commentary which I support,some thoughts of my own. Teaching the Bible in the schools is good but unless students meet the Savior who is Jesus teaching the facts about the Bible won’t mean anything. Though teaching the Bible might open them up to hearing about the God who loves them with an everlasting loving. So it is good to teach the Bible. Also I am part of a ministry called Campus Life which is part of Youth for Christ which is reaching non church youth. One week this middle school kid told me he had never heard of the first book in the book. That excites me. Because he is coming to Campus Life. Pray for the Bible being taught in the schools,along with ministries like Campus Life to be used to impact many students. )

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We told you about having your kids take their Bibles to school. But what about teaching the Bible there?

Last month I told you about a growing movement in the U.S. called “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” organized by our friends at Focus on the Family. It’s part of a growing national movement to encourage our kids to bring their Bibles back to public schools, and perhaps 500,000 young people participated this year! But that’s not all we can do, not by a long shot, despite what you may think.

As you probably know, prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair brought a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Murray v. Curlett, that ended devotional Bible-reading in public schools in 1963. Schools then threw the baby out with the bath water and stopped teaching the Bible academically, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. The results, speaking modestly, have been disastrous. In our schools, suicide, pregnancy rates, and violence have risen dramatically, while our scores in reading, writing, and math have plunged. Of course, while it’s not causation, the correlation is hard to miss.

Bible knowledge, a foundation of Western civilization, has also collapsed. According to Gallup, only a minority of American teens are “Bible literate.” It’s no wonder that over half of the graduating high school seniors in one poll thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount! Truly, Johnny can’t read … the Bible!

It’s simply impossible for kids to be fully educated without basic knowledge of the world’s greatest book. Without the Bible, students can’t really understand fully the English language, English literature, history, art, music or culture—and the experts agree. In a poll of high school English teachers, 98 percent said that students who don’t know the Bible are disadvantaged when reading English literature.

Another survey of English professors from Harvard, Yale, and other prestigious institutions found that 38 of 39 agreed that “an educated person, regardless of his or her faith, needs to know the Bible.” Indeed, there are more than 1,200 documented references to the Bible just in the 36 plays of Shakespeare.

That’s why the global campaign “Teach The Bible In Schools” is so important. Started in the United States in 2005 through the Bible Literacy Project, the nonprofit Essentials in Education created a textbook and constitutionally safe instructional resources to help school districts implement a Bible course in the public and private schools that follows federal law.

In the U.S., the course can either be a language arts elective or a social studies elective for grades 9-12. The textbook is called “The Bible and Its Influence,” and it’s being used in 640 schools with 140,000 students in 44 states.

Nine states have passed laws that encouraging teaching of the Bible academically in the public schools. And the latest state is Kentucky. But that’s just the beginning.

“The ‘Teach The Bible In Schools’ goal is two-fold,” says my friend Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education. “We want to get the other 41 states to endorse Bible literacy as a supported academic course and to spread that legislative backing across the globe.”

This is indeed an international movement. Campaigns are underway in Australia, Great Britain, Finland, Brazil, India, and the Philippines. “The Bible and Its Influence” is already being used in Canada, Rwanda, Taiwan, South Korea, and even in China.

If your state does not yet support courses in biblical literacy, I strongly encourage you go to TeachTheBibleinSchools.org to see how you can be a part of this vital campaign. Or, of course, come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to it.

Folks, we’ve just marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which brought the Bible to the masses. And up ahead is National Bible Week. Now is the perfect time to make sure that Johnny can read, and understand, the Bible!

Why Johnny Can’t Read … the Bible: The “Teach the Bible in Schools” Campaign

Find out more about the campaign to get the Bible and its influence taught in the classroom. Go to TeachTheBibleinSchools.org.

 

Resources

The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Churches

  • Ed Stetzer | Christianity Today | July 6, 2015
The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

  • Albert Mohler | AlbertMohler.com | January 20, 2016
Bible Study in Public Schools Sought In New State Laws

  • Jackie Zubrzycki | Education Week | March 17, 2016
Kentucky allows public schools to teach Bible classes

  • Aida Chavez | Thehill.com | June 29, 2017

BreakPoint: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Wake up, Speak out, Pray

 

 

 
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More Christians are persecuted today than ever before. Which is why we need to join in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

On a sunny day last May, several families climbed onto a couple of buses, happily looking forward to visiting a monastery together.

They never made it. Instead, half of them, including ten children, were slaughtered. You see, these families were Egyptian Christians.

Islamic terrorists dressed in military fatigues stopped the buses and ordered the riders off. As one eyewitness later said, “As each pilgrim came off the bus, they were asked to renounce their Christian faith and profess belief in Islam. But all of them—even the children—refused.”  The terrorists murdered 29 Christians before fleeing.

This Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It’s a time to focus our attention on our brothers and sisters who are being arrested, tortured, murdered, and driven out of their homeland, simply because they worship Jesus.

The attack in Egypt was just one of many around the world last spring. In Germany, a Muslim stabbed a woman to death—one who had converted from Islam to Christianity.

In Pakistan, a Christian pastor was sentenced to life in prison and tortured for blasphemy. He reportedly has been tortured many times.

In North Korea, entire families are thrown into labor camps, where they often die from torture, beatings, and starvation.

In Turkey last year, American missionary Andrew Brunson was locked up on the absurd grounds that he was a terrorist.

Islamists have also swept through Niger, setting fire to Christian churches, orphanages, schools and homes. I could go on.

According to Open Doors USA, the worst offenders are North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan. Sometimes Christians are persecuted by a hostile government, as in China. But in the majority of countries, Islamist extremists are at fault. Tragically, western governments and the United Nations are not doing enough to prevent genocidal efforts, according to the Catholic News Agency.

They should—and they must. More Christians are being persecuted today than ever before in history. Some one hundred million believers are at risk. And yet, the world press largely ignores this massive humanitarian horror.

Why, you may ask, are Christians being persecuted in such great numbers today? In part, it’s because they’re considered part of the “imperial” West. And in many countries, Christians are the ones who are speaking out against the exploitation of the poor.  Third, Christianity is spreading rapidly in predominantly Muslim countries. And totalitarian leaders hate Christians because our ultimate allegiance is always going to be to God and not to a government.

Finally, writes Laura McAlister on the blog site Ignitum Today, “the hidden reality behind all persecution” is revealed in the book of Revelation: It teaches that Satan “makes war” on “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”

Folks, we need to wake up, speak out, and urge our leaders in government to do what it can to fight atrocities committed against innocent men, women, and children around the world.

Above all, we need to pray for them fervently. Lifting them up before God’s throne is what persecuted Christians say they need most.

There are two websites I urge you to visit. First, go to opendoorsusa.org, you’ll find resources to help you and your church observe this international day of prayer for the persecuted church.  Then there’s the Voice of the Persecuted.

Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to them both.

Finally, to those who are suffering for their faith, I leave you with the words of Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid . . .for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Wake up, Speak out, Pray

It’s not a cliche: We need to intercede for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering because they proclaim the name of Christ. So pray, and get engaged with organizations that offer support for persecuted believers across the globe.

China Cracking Down

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China wasn’t kidding. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Last month the Chinese government announced new crackdowns on religion in order to, so they say, fight extremism and protect national security.

A house church pastor, her daughter, and her toddler grandson have been arrested for singing and preaching in a public park. No one knows their whereabouts.

According to Christianity Today, local officials are already cracking down in several areas around the country, even though these new regulations don’t go into effect until February. In one province, authorities are warning Christian parents not to send their kids to Christian summer camps or even to Sunday school. Missionaries are being expelled “in record numbers.” And virtually all religious activities—publishing, accepting donations, religious education—are coming under intense scrutiny.

Eric Metaxas and I have told you before that within the next couple of decades, China is on track to have the world’s largest population of Christians.

But it’s clear that this miraculous growth of the Church there will be accompanied by severe growing pains. So please, pray for the Church in China.

 

Resources

Red Tape: China Wants to Constrict Christian Activities with 26 New Rules

  • Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra | ChristianityToday.com | October 3, 2016

The job of publishing the Bible is not complete

Listen to a commentary here.