Call to Christians: Engage in politics & evangelism out of love for neighbor


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REPUBLICAN COMEBACK?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I remember back when it was 2008 – President Obama had just won the presidential election – and I remember hearing one political pundit say, “The Republican Party is dead. It’s over for them.” Here we are at the beginning of 2018, we look back on last year, and many would say it was a very successful year for President Trump, a Republican.

The president has indeed had some notable successes: nominating Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, the destruction of ISIS in Iraq, the repeal of HHS contraceptive mandate, the Justice Department opening an investigation into Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts and there are other successes as well.

Harry, many Christians will look at this and say, “Hey, we’ve scored a big victory.”

DR. REEDER: Because a number of believers, while having issues with President Trump on a personal level, a number of evangelicals decided, hey, between the choice of someone who is going to promote the death culture of abortion – taxpayer support of it – and the continual dissipation of the sanctity of life as well as the enlargement of government as the savior between the two, the populist president was taken.

As a number of people would say, a number of evangelicals, on the one side, were holding their nose, on the other side, pulling the lever. And most of it was around the Supreme Court justice issue. As I have talked with various people, that seems to have been pretty consistent.

This president has fulfilled a number of his promises. We actually did a program on that, what he’s been successful at and, of course, there have been some notable failures. However, at the same time, when you note all of these “successes,” at the same time, this president’s popularity or approval rating is in the 30s and there are many, many prognosticators that are saying there’s going to be a significant loss by the Republican Party in this mid-term election.

Now, by the way, there are others that say, no, once this economic recovery takes place that everyone is expecting out of this recent tax reform and deregulations that have taken place, that it’s really going to be a substantial victory for Republicans.

CHRISTIAN ROLE IN POLITICS

I think this is the occasion that you and I can make a very simple point: The Christian world and life view calls us to be fully engaged and the Great Commandment calls us to be fully engaged in what it means to be a good citizen as a Christian citizen. I need to vote. I need to be aware of issues. I need to make prayerful decisions about who I vote for, what issues I support and what policies I support.

And, thus, we, in this program, continue to try to look at issues from a Christian world and life view knowing that each believer, the priesthood of each believer – you have the Holy Spirit, you have the Word of God – you need to make up your mind and your decision on these things because to love your neighbor is to engage in politics.

Politics is to enact good policies for the well-being of people. And, of course, the two basic philosophies that vie is the government is savior or is the government supposed to have a limited role but a very important role in a fallen world to restrain sin and to promote righteousness while protecting the freedoms of people and it’s what the people do that is the best way to develop a culture in which there is human flourishing?

FOUNDING FATHERS’ VISION AND TODAY’S REALITY

What our founding fathers understood is that the free practice of religion was a very important issue that was doing two things. No. 1 was that the government was not to pick the religion – the government was to protect the free practice of religion. The reason it didn’t institute a religion is that this is a freedom of the people – it is not a policy of the government. Good policy comes from the religious affections of people if properly influenced.

Now, that’s where we as Christians are delighted to take our place in the public square. Not only the public square to speak about policies in a Christian world and life view, but in the public square to move to another “Great” in the bible and that’s the Great Commission. And there is where the real hope of our nation lies – and every nation – and that is the progress of the Gospel in the lives of men and women, in the lives of families, in the lives of communities and that’s what we want to give ourselves to. That’s what we want to focus upon.

NEW YEAR, CALL TO REVIVAL

Tom, even as we’re still in this opening days of this new year, I would love to renew that call. We will attempt to continue to bring Today in Perspective from a Biblical world and life view on multiple issues, but the real hope of our nation is the people of God committed to prayer and committed to the Great Commission, which is to make disciples of all the nations. And, if we want disciples of Christ in all the nations, then it’s right that we begin with a priority in our own nation.

Tom, even in our own congregation – Briarwood Presbyterian Church where I serve – this last year, we have asked the Lord to give us an understanding of revival, a heaven-sent revival, a God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Gospel-saturated, prayer-engaged revival movement.

Two things happen when God revives His people: there’s a vertical in which they love to worship and there’s a horizontal in which they love to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

They love to share the Gospel with themselves so that they stay amazed at grace, and they love to share the Gospel with each other so that we are encouraged by the grace of the Lord Jesus and His saving work and then we love to share the good news that Jesus died for sinners, He rose again and you can be right with God, we love to share that with people who have not yet come to Christ – share it with those who are seeking, share it with those who are lost and not yet seeking but we would seek them to share that with them.

WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN’S ROLE?

Tom, can we just use this program to ask those that are there, we’re actually calling this year LEAD – a Lifestyle of Evangelism And Discipleship. Do you ever notice how Jesus would say, “Come and follow me”? Come to Christ for salvation and follow him as a disciple to be transformed in your mind.

When you come to Christ, you get a new heart, you get a new record, you get a new life, you get a new home, you get a new family. What you don’t get is a new mind but what you do get is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God whereby your mind can be transformed and you can learn to think Christianly.

First of all, if you haven’t yet come to Christ, just come to Him and put your trust in Jesus alone for salvation and just watch what happens. Your salvation is not going to be in sports, it’s not going to be in money, it’s not going to be in power, it’s not going to be in politics, but it will be in Jesus Christ and it will surely be in Jesus Christ.

And then, when you receive that gift, it’s a gift that you can give away to your family and your friends and your neighbors and your coworkers and then send it around the world. What a glorious thing to do in your life.

And then, those of you who are believers, would you join us in a lifestyle of evangelism and discipleship? Let’s share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those that are around us.

RENEWAL OF THE NATION FOUND IN CHRIST

Now, there is where the real renewal will come in our nation. It won’t come from the Republican Party, it won’t come from the Democratic Party, it will not come from the secularists, that’s for sure, and it won’t even come from Evangelicals engaged in the pragmatics of politics as well as the principles of politics.

We need to be engaged, but the solution to where our nation is headed is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You know, Edmund Burke, an early-on commenter of culture, said this: the key to America was in its small groups of believers in their churches who were preaching the Gospel, sharing the Gospel and in what he called “the small platoons” – the small groups of discipleship was what he was looking at.

That’s what Jesus did: He turned the world upside down. How did he do it? He had the 3, He had the 12 and He had the 70.

Therefore, let’s be engaged in worship to the glory of God and bearing witness with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “He who wins souls is wise.” We have, in the Gospel, the bridge to life – now let’s build bridges in our life so that people can be brought across the bridge to life from sin to the savior.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

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2 hours ago

Students walked out of school on Columbine shooting’s 19th anniversary

Students walked out of school to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., Friday.

Students across the country staged a walkout to protest gun violence 19 years after the Columbine shooting in 1999, The Washington Post reported. Connecticut’s Ridgefield High School student Lane Murdock, 16, organized the walkouts in order to pay respects to the Columbine High School massacre, where seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fired and killed 13 students and one teacher before killing themselves. Students from 2,500 different schools around the United States are expected to walk out of their high schools at 10 a.m. in their time zone to commemorate the tragedy, according to the HuffPost.

However, Columbine officials are less enthusiastic about the walkouts. Current principal Scott Christy and Frank DeAngelis, the principal during the 1999 shooting, wrote a letter, asking students to instead do a day of community service.

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“April has long been a time to respectfully remember our loss and also support efforts to make our communities a better place,” the letter read. “Please consider planning service projects, an activity that will somehow build up your school … as opposed to a walkout.” Columbine high school does not hold classes on the anniversary in a practice started in 2000 in order to pay respects to the victims. Many students instead volunteer at soup kitchens, read to preschoolers, and help clean up parks.

“We feel like doing anything on that day is disrespectful for the families of people who died,” Columbine high school sophomore Rachel Hill said. “There’s a time for protest, but it’s not that day.” Hill didn’t think high school’s respected or listened to Columbine’s opinions, in regards to the walkout, the sophomore added.

The walkouts follow the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., March 24. The rally was held to advocate for gun reform following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting spree in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14.

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15 hours ago

Conservatives should stop using the phrase ‘fake news’

Liberals have overused the word “racist” so much that the adjective now lacks any commonly agreed upon definition, and that’s a shame because we need words — especially that word — to mean something.

Conservatives have now done the same thing with the phrase “fake news.”

And we need to stop.

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Are there racists? Of course, and where they are found, the label should indeed apply. The Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer is a racist. So is Jared Taylor.

But you’re not a racist if you believe our country should have borders. Or if you support law enforcement. Or if you believe in school choice.

Calling you a racist for supporting those things is the left’s attempt at shutting off debate and banishing those who advocate for such ideas.

Is there fake news? Of course, and just like the word “racist,” when it’s found, the label should apply. Dan Rather’s infamous story about George W. Bush’s record in the Air National Guard is a perfect example. It wasn’t true.

But news isn’t fake if it’s simply something you don’t like or would rather not hear. Or if it challenges your perspectives. Or if it, heaven forbid, says something unflattering about the president.

A racist is someone who actually hates people of another color and wishes them ill. Most people called ‘racist’ today are nothing of the sort.

Fake news means the story is a total fabrication. A lie. Complete fiction. Most stories called ‘fake news’ are also nothing of the sort.

In both cases, people making the charge simply want to delegitimize their opponent’s argument rather than make the mental and emotional effort to challenge their ideas.

The casualty of such total weakness is not just words, but thought itself.

As our fellow Alabamian Helen Keller wrote in her memoir, she wasn’t able to really think until words entered her mind that day at the water pump.

Words opened Helen Keller’s mind.

Don’t allow words to close yours.

16 hours ago

Grand jury considers Alabama woman’s stabbing of husband with sword

A grand jury in Alabama will hear the case of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her husband with a sword.

Authorities say 50-year-old Jeannette Hale stabbed her husband, Mark, in the chest while he played a guitar in their home on April 2.

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Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell tells AL.com that responding deputies found Mark Hale bleeding on their front porch. The sword was in the yard.

Mitchell says the husband later died at a hospital. An autopsy released Wednesday said the cause was complications of being stabbed.

The sheriff says Jeanette Hale was arrested on charges involving domestic violence and drugs.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

17 hours ago

Poly Sci 101: Gov. Ivey’s monument ad is a prime case of political framing

“Special interests” and “politically correct nonsense” are responsible for efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces, Gov. Kay Ivey says in a recent campaign ad.

At a campaign appearance earlier this week in Foley, Ivey made similar statements on the issue.

“We must learn from our history. And we don’t need folks in Washington or out of state liberals telling us what to do in Alabama,” she said, according to Fox 10 News. “I believe it’s more important that if we want to get where we want to go, we’ve got to understand where we’ve been. And I believe that the people of Alabama agree with that decision and support protecting all of our historical monuments.”

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The conversation about Confederate monuments raises some intellectually and morally stimulating questions: What is their function? Do they function as objects of praise or as objects of historical memory? Who ought to determine whether they stay or go?

I’ll leave those questions aside for now because I want to address how Gov. Ivey has articulated the monuments issue.

George Lakoff is a cognitive scientist who has done a lot of research examining how politics and language intersect, particularly how language is used by individuals and groups to present their opponents in ways that welcome easy refutation. Usually, this means the misrepresentation of those ideas or opponents or, at the very least, a simplistic representation of them.

Lakoff refers to this as the act of “framing,” calling “frames” the arguments or scenarios set up by framing.

Here are a few assumptions that Ivey’s frame makes: Monuments are not only a way to learn from our history, but they are central to learning from our history; non-Alabamians and political enemies are trying to tell us what to do in advocating for monuments’ removal; monuments are a way to ensure that Alabama gets “where it wants to go,” politically, socially, culturally; that Alabamians are opposed to monument removal.

There are obvious political benefits to framing the issue this way. Knowing our history is clearly important. Who could argue that? Alabama is a sovereign state. Nobody wants outsiders tampering with decision-making.

What the frame excludes is an argument demonstrating why monuments are central to learning from our history, and how their removal would prevent us from learning from our history. It also excludes names of individuals or groups who have come from afar to tell us what to do.

It’s undeniable that folks from all around the country want Confederate monuments removed all around the country, and some may even be funding that effort from afar, but the major weakness of Ivey’s frame is a failure to acknowledge the Alabamians who are arguing for monument removal.

Birmingham City officials have advocated their removal.

Tuskegee Mayor Tony Haygood said the city has considered the removal of a Confederate soldier monument in the middle of town.

A Tuskegee graduate wrote a petition last year to the have the same monument removed. The petition garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

City officials in Selma have shown a similar resolve over the years, if not to have a monument removed then to cease the city’s contribution to its maintenance.  

Obviously, Ivey doesn’t have time in a 30-second ad to deconstruct the monument debate’s complexity, and I understand that, but her frame doesn’t accurately articulate who is representing the monument removal view in Alabama.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

17 hours ago

Alabama legislators should follow Iowa’s lead in protecting the unborn

“If we conservatives truly believe abortion is what we say it is — the butchering of an unborn person — then ending the practice must be our top priority.”

Those were the words of Yellowhammer’s very own J. Pepper Bryars last week in an article he wrote after Congress failed, once again, to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal dollars.

Bryars couldn’t have been more accurate in his criticism, but I believe his words are also an indictment of the entire pro-life movement. For far too long we have played defense on the issue of abortion, attempting to hold the status quo while never really producing any substantial legislation on the issue. Not since Casey in June of 1992 have we attempted to make any real challenge to Roe v. Wade.

It’s for that reason that Alabama should follow in the footsteps of the lawmakers from our sister state of Iowa, who last month passed one of the strongest pro-life bills we have seen in decades.

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Iowa Senate bill 2281 (the text of which can be found here), known as the Heartbeat Billwould legally prevent all abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat has been discovered, except in the very rare case of a medical emergency.

In other words, only when it is concluded by medical personnel that the life of the mother is in danger can an abortion be performed. Not only does it not make the exception for rape and incest as pro-choice legislators like to commonly reference, but it would also charge any doctor that performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected with a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Why this matters: The earliest fetal heartbeats can be detected is 5-6 weeks after conception, which is right about the time most women are initially discovering they are pregnant. However, new research from the University of Oxford suggests that a fetal heartbeat may be detected as early as 16 days after conception. With the risk of women dying during childbirth decreasing significantly since the 1970s and the recent trends in fetal research, it is clear that a bill such as this could effectively end 99% of abortions statewide.

Also, by creating legislation that defines life as beginning the moment the first detectable heartbeat is discovered we will be using the same red line that is already in use by most professionals in the medical community.

If I were driving home from work one night and had a terrible car accident, medical personnel after arriving on scene and finding me unconscious would immediately check for a pulse indicating whether I had a detectable heartbeat. If a detectable heartbeat is found, I would be considered a living person. If a heartbeat can be used by the medical community as a means of declaring when a person is living after birth, then it makes no sense why we wouldn’t use the same scientifically backed means of declaring life prior to birth.

For far too long the pro-life movement has focused on arguments surrounding fetal viability and gestational timelines, allowing our opponents on the issue the opportunity to define the terms of the debate for us.

Finally, simply passing a bill such as Iowa’s heartbeat bill would only be the beginning of the fight. There is no doubt that the ACLU, SPLC, and every pro-choice organization in the country would descend upon our state capital like locust filing every legal challenge to the bill imaginable. They would organize large protests where people in hats resembling female genitalia will gnash their teeth, but the resulting legal challenge would finally give us the opportunity to eventually stand before the Supreme Court and reargue the merits of the worst decision it has produced since Plessy v. Ferguson.

So, it is incumbent upon our legislators to truly reflect on the very pointed philosophical question Bryars raised regarding what we truly believe as conservatives on the issue of protecting unborn life.

Do you, Governor Kay Ivey, believe as you so eloquently stated that “fighting for our freedoms means fighting for the unborn”?

Do the members of our State Legislature and the pro-life community believe this as well?

If so, then the time has long since passed for us to stand by our words and attack Roe at its very core.

@dannybritton256 is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and lives in Athens.