The 2 ungodly reactions to politics, current events that Christians must avoid


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TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on today’s podcast, I’d like to do a follow-up to Monday’s program, as well as Tuesday’s program. Monday, we talked about the Doug Jones/Roy Moore election out of Alabama. Yesterday’s broadcast, we talked about the fact that American citizens are starting to lose trust in their government. We see it through the fallout of partisan politics at the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Today, I want to ask how does the believer react? So often when we’re faced with these situations where we’re disappointed, we’ll see fear, we’ll see despair, and we’ll see believers losing hope. Harry, obviously, that’s not God’s intention for us, so how do we react to these news stories?

DISPLACED TRUST

DR. REEDER: Yesterday, we talked about how the believer does not assign trust to a government, although they want a trustworthy government, but let me say something else now. Our hope isn’t in government, our hope is not in a pastor, our hope is not in an elected official, our hope is not in any institution – that’s not our hope. Our hope is in Christ. I have met people who, during the election of President Obama – what it represented with the Democratic platform – they were just utterly angry, fearful or they were utterly in despair.

DON’T INDULGE FEAR

Let me just say to every Christian, no matter what happens in this world, we are never allowed to fear. There is only one fear we have and that is the wonderful blessing of the fear of the Lord.

The Bible says to us, “Perfect love cast out all fear,” so we’re not allowed any of that. What you fear will control you. You’re not allowed to fear the outcome of an election, you’re not allowed to fear the demise of the government and, if you do fear that, that tells you that you hold the government at a higher place than you hold your God.

What you fear indicates what you have worshipped. I understand concern. The same Paul that says that we are never to fear – “Be anxious for nothing” – is the same Paul who says to us that he had concerns for the churches so sanctified concern is fine.

Fear must be banished. Believers out of this past election or out of the shenanigans that are going on in Washington – we can’t fear because the Lord, our God, is our refuge and our mighty fortress. What happens in this world does not affect us. He is sovereign over it and our trust is in Him.

DON’T INDULGE SINFUL ANGER

Secondly, we are not allowed the anger of man. There is a place for God-given sanctified outrage. I’ve got it over abortion – that evokes within me an outrage and I believe there’s a place for lament and I believe there’s a place for outrage.

Therefore, as a believer, I am not saying don’t have lament over the brokenness and sinful acts in this world. I am not saying we don’t have outrage, but the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. We ought to be anti-phobia except for the fear of the Lord, which brings wisdom.

And, thirdly, while we may have sanctified outrage over sin and its consequences, we do not let the anger of man control our lives because it will not achieve the righteousness of God.

HOW THEN DO WE RESPOND?

What do we do? First of all, we nurture our hope in the Lord and we realize that our God is not shortened by bad elections. We do not fear because, “The Lord, our God, has a hedge around His people and He will protect them and what He allows into their life of adversity is ultimately for their good,” Job 1:10.

We do not let the anger of man direct us and control us because it will not promote the righteousness of God, so what do we do? Well, No. 1, we pray and, No. 2., we nurture our hope in the Lord, we nurture our confidence in the Lord and then we nurture our passions for the Lord, not for ourselves.

FOLLOW THESE BIBILICAL EXAMPLES

Tom, let me try to illustrate this two ways. You’ve got a young man of great promise who is dearly loved by his father and his brothers are jealous and they sell him into slavery. And he gets sold into slavery so when he shows up, the guy that owns him, he becomes the best slave the guy’s ever had and rises up over his entire house.

His name was Joseph and the guy that owned him was Potiphar. The wife that tried to seduce him and he said, “I will not sin against my master and I will not sin against the Lord,” what does that get him? A kangaroo court. He is disciplined by Potiphar and now he is put in a place of destitution so what happens to Joseph?

Well, eventually, he becomes the prime minister of Egypt and he saves that nation of Egypt, he saves the people of God, God uses his people to bring his people there for discipline and then, with the memory of Joseph in their mind, 400 years later, they’re brought out for the promised land.

But, in the midst of all that, his brothers who realized what they had done and how they fearfully, in despair, come to Joseph and they say, “Joseph, now that our father is dead, what are you going to do to us?” and he says, “I’m not going to do anything. I’m going to provide for you,” – I’m paraphrasing but – he said, “I know what you did was evil, but what you meant for evil, God meant for good.”

When Paul got arrested and thrown into prison, he didn’t go die in a self-pity pile. He started worshipping with Silas and the result is the conversion of prisoners and the conversion of a Philippian jailer.

One of my favorites is Daniel and the three youths that were with him, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when they were brought into slavery by the Babylonian Empire, they would have been in my junior high youth group. And so they get there and, what happens?

They treat the King Nebuchadnezzar and his officials with respect, but they are faithful to the Lord and the result is King Nebuchadnezzar gets converted. Instead of fearfulness, instead of despair, God gives them hope and direction, God becomes their confidence and, even when they’re going to get thrown into a fiery furnace, “Hey, King, you can throw us in the furnace, but our God is going to deliver us either from your hand or through your hand. Our God isn’t shortened by you.”

Ultimately, Nebuchadnezzar, I believe, is converted as revealed by Daniel, Chapter 4, but let me tell you something else that happens. Daniel and, perhaps the three young men – although we don’t know – he now is in a position to affect two pagan empires, the Babylonian Empire and then the Mato-Persian Empire. He not only affects two empires, he becomes a primary counselor to pagan kings and he serves in five dynasties through two empires.

Through this, the people of God are disciplined, and refined and sent back to the Promised Land and men like Nehemiah are developed through the courts of these pagan kings who God will use and men like Ezra, Joshua, and Nehemiah – who become a key part of the restoration of God’s people, the line of the Redeemer that we celebrate at Christmas – the line of the Redeemer is preserved, the Temple is rebuilt, the city of Jerusalem is rebuilt.

And God uses these men because they refuse to be in despair. They lived unto the Lord and for the Lord in the midst of a culture gone bad. They didn’t go die in a pile – they just did the next right thing and put their trust in the Lord. Their hope did not waver because of their circumstances. The anger of man did not dominate them, but the fear of the Lord is what surrounded them.

That’s the way they lived and the result is some of their own number, hundreds of years later, show up at the stable of Jesus. They were the royal counselors of what was left over of the Persian Empire, royal Magi, that showed up at the birth of Jesus and, by the way, they get converted.

THE RESULTS?

That’s what happens when you make the Lord your hope, not the last election. That’s what happens when the fear of the Lord is in your life, not the fear of man – when, instead of the anger of man, the love of the Lord fills your heart and your soul and we go to our knees in intercessory prayer for God to bring revival and Gospel awakenings to us and to our land.

Tom, I believe that’s the way we ought to respond. Let’s never let fear guide us, never let the anger of man destroy us and never let despair find a place in our life. Our hope is in the Lord. The love of the Lord casts out fear and our service to the Lord leads us to passion for Jesus, not the anger of man.

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.

11 mins ago

$62.3 million to be invested in bringing broadband to Alabama’s rural areas

HAMILTON — A group of public officials and business executives gathered in Hamilton on Thursday to announce four investments by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) totaling $62.3 million. The investments are all aimed at improving broadband access in Alabama’s rural areas.

The two most substantial investments, at $29.5 and $28.2 million respectively, are 50/50 loan grant combinations being given to Tombigbee Electric Cooperative and Millry Communications.

The Tombigbee investment will affect Marion, Lamar, Fayette, Franklin, Winston and Walker counties. The Millry portion will affect Choctaw and Washington counties.

Per the USDA, the investment will total $62.3 million. The funds are aimed at creating high-speed broadband infrastructure. The USDA estimates it will improve internet connectivity for more than 8,000 rural households, 57 farms, 44 businesses, 17 educational facilities, 14 critical community facilities and three health care facilities in rural Alabama.

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Two smaller investments are being made in National Telephone of Alabama (TEC) and Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative.

The TEC investment is a $2.7 million 50/50 loan-grant combination serving Colbert County. The Farmers investment is a $2 million loan that will affect unserved areas in Jackson and Dekalb counties.

Present at the announcement were U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative CEO Steve Foshee, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Kenneth Boswell, along with representatives from Millry Communications, National Telephone of Alabama (TEC) and Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative.

“Beyond connecting us to our friends and family, high-speed broadband internet connectivity, or e-Connectivity, is a necessity, not an amenity, to do business, access opportunities in education and receive specialized health care in rural America today,” LaVoy said.

In March 2018, Congress appropriated $600 million to the USDA with the intent of expanding rural broadband access in rural America. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled in December of 2018 the “ReConnect” program by which rural areas could apply for the allocated resources. The USDA says they “received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in funding.”

The $62.3 million announced for Alabama on Thursday makes up over 10% of the total money spent by the program.

ReConnect dispenses grants, loans and grant/loan combinations to private sector providers in rural communities. The ReConnect money goes to building high-quality broadband infrastructure in areas with inadequate internet service. The USDA defines insufficient service as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload.

The funds for the program originated in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. A subcommittee on which Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) sits.

Citing Congress being in session, Aderholt appeared at the announcement via a pre-recorded video. He said he was glad the program would “help close the ‘digital divide’ that isolates so many parts of rural America.”

“This program is beginning to pay dividends in rural Alabama and America,” he said of ReConnect.

“USDA also recognizes the strong leadership of Senator Shelby in making these funds available for rural communities in Alabama and across the country,” USDA Alabama Rural Development Director Chris Beeker told Yellowhammer.

“Expanding freedom FIBER broadband to residents across northwest Alabama meets a critical e-Connectivity need,” said Steve Foshee, president and CEO of Tombigbee Communications. “From students having the ability to complete their schoolwork, to our neighbors in need of receiving adequate healthcare, freedom FIBER broadband will help improve the lives and communities of rural northwest Alabama.”

Foshee also emceed the event and was praised by name by each of the other speakers for his tenacity and commitment to providing internet for his area.

Several groups of school children were bused in for the announcement and sat in the audience.

ADECA Director Boswell said to the young people in attendance, “You’ll be able to travel the world at your fingertips, no more having to go to McDonald’s for the hotspot.”

Two employees at the McDonalds nearest the site of the announcement confirmed to Yellowhammer that students from local schools frequented the establishment after school to use the internet.

Annis Jordan spoke at the event on behalf of Millry Communications. Millry provides service in Washington and Choctaw counties. Jordan said Millry had wanted to invest in high-speed broadband for the last 10 years, “but the financial analysis then and throughout the years since did not allow us to proceed until this year.”

State Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield) said a substantial part of the coverage will be in his district, and complimented Steve Foshee for his work in bringing the project to fruition.

He told Yellowhammer, “This is a big day for rural Alabama. Too many times, we’re left watching on the sidelines.”

Fred Johnson, the CEO of Farmers Telecommunications Corp, praised Aderholt in his remarks, calling the dean of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation “the one person most largely responsible for the funding of this program.”

Joey Garner, a VP of TEC, one of the companies receiving an investment, said, “We are thrilled with the opportunity to increase our fiber internet network in Alabama with the assistance of this federally-funded grant. TEC is committed to our local service areas, our customers, and our employees, and we look forward to these great opportunities and additions in 2020.”

State Rep. Proncey Robertson (R- Mount Hope) also represents areas that will be covered after the announced investment. He said in a text to Yellowhammer, “High-speed internet is as important today as electric power was in the 1930s.”

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) said in a statement to Yellowhammer, “Today’s announcement is fantastic news for Alabama. This significant investment from USDA of $62.3 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure across rural Alabama is critical for economic development, education, healthcare, and quality of life in our state.”

One of the students in the audience was Natalie Langley. She told Yellowhammer that her house benefitted from a previous Tombigbee expansion of high-speed internet.

“It was bad before,” she said of her old internet connection, “my mom spent a lot of money on cellular data before we could get fiber.”

In remarks to reporters after the event, Undersecretary LaVoy praised the cooperation between Alabama’s public officials and businesses that brought the announcement to fruition.

“This is the model, what we have in communities like this,” he said, gesturing to those around him. “I would say Alabama is at the forefront of being able to make what we want to see happen.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

41 mins ago

Pete Buttigieg’s silly grievance tour in Alabama is a joke

Any time a candidate for president comes to Alabama we should be thrilled.

It gives them a chance to meet voters that normally don’t factor into presidential elections and it gives the state the chance to put its best foot forward.

But that’s not what 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s trip to Alabama was about.

He is here because he has no black support in a primary where black support is very important, so he comes to Alabama to rip on the state.

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He swings by the National Memorial for Peace and Justice outside of Montgomery, not to learn anything, but to attack a fictional problem of “white supremacy.”

No one in the press dared to ask what he has done about this in his current position, or even what he will do if he becomes president. They acted like the dutiful scribes and staff photographers that they are so he can say, “I went to the lynching memorial” the next time his lack of black support is questioned.

And what better way to gain street cred nationally among black voters than to attack Alabama lawmakers for passing an abortion ban that the citizens of this state solidly support?

Buttigieg said, “What we see in Alabama unfortunately among legislators is a refusal to follow the law of the land.”

But this is not true.

Alabama lawmakers passed a law that was specifically meant to challenge the interpretation of the “law of the land,” which is, obviously, not a law at all but a Supreme Court ruling.

Supreme Court precedent is challenged all the time. He should know this.

Again, expecting the American press or their less competent Alabama counterparts to question him on these things is a mistake; they don’t have the knowledge necessary to do so.

But Buttigieg’s pandering was so broad he needed to be in the state for more than one day to get it all in.

While appearing at an event in Birmingham, he made the point that raising the minimum wage would disproportionately benefit non-white Americans.

How he reconciles that argument with his suggestion that we bring in more immigrants to compete with low-income workers is beyond me, but again, no one in the media seems interested in drilling down on these poorly thought-out arguments.

This is all just a PR trip and nothing more. Buttigieg is bumping up in some polls but is still struggling with black voters.

The first state with a large number of black voters is South Carolina, where he is polling fourth overall with 6% of the vote and a whopping 0% among black voters.

Remember why Buttigieg came to Alabama: It wasn’t to court voters here. It was solely to pander to black voters in other states.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

Alabama’s innovative reform to Medicaid is paying dividends

One of the toughest, yet least-talked about, challenges facing the U.S. today is how to effectively deliver affordable health care to America’s growing population of senior citizens. The U.S. Census Bureau has predicted that by 2035, the number of adults over the age of 65 will exceed the number of children under the age of 18. The graying of America’s population especially creates a challenge for what, at times, can be a fractured and overly complicated health care delivery system.

In Alabama, over 90,000 senior citizens’ health care is funded in part via Medicaid, the federally-mandated insurance program that serves the elderly, the poor, and the disabled. Even though Medicaid is federally-mandated, that definitely does not mean that the federal government covers all of the costs — Alabama’s portion of the costs provided by the general fund was $755 million in Fiscal Year 2019, a figure which eats up 37% of all non-education spending by the State of Alabama.

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Over the past several years, I have worked closely with the past two governors, other legislative leaders, Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar and private sector partners to identify new delivery models that will bend the cost curve down for Medicaid, while ensuring Alabama’s senior citizens on Medicaid still receive good medical care.

In early 2017, I went to Washington, along with Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon, Medicaid Commissioner Azar and other state leaders, to meet with Dr. Tom Price, who then served as President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

That trip and subsequent phone calls and data presentations paid off: in 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in Washington granted Alabama the opportunity to pursue a new delivery model of health care services for the more than 20,000 senior citizens in Alabama who are receiving long-term care through Medicaid.

Let me tell you: it is not an easy thing to persuade a federal agency to grant a state a waiver from any program’s requirements. Federal government employees – even the hardest-working and best-intentioned – are not necessarily keen on innovation.

In October of 2018, Alabama launched the Integrated Care Network (ICN). In this new model, Medicaid contracts with an Alabama-based healthcare provider to serve the 22,500 patients who are receiving long-term care through Medicaid. These senior patients and their families have expanded choices through the ICN: most are in nursing homes, but about 30% have chosen to receive care in the comfort of their own homes.

Where are we nearly a year down the road from the ICN launch? A few weeks ago, I convened a meeting of Medicaid, the Department of Senior Services, nursing home owners and health care providers. Their reports were encouraging. According to Medicaid’s estimates, the ICN model has already saved the state $4 million — and Medicaid projects the savings to grow over the next few years.

In 2039, if trends hold, 42% of Alabamians will be 60 years or older. For the senior citizens who will need Medicaid’s assistance, it is imperative that we continue to modernize and innovate in the area of health care, especially for programs like Medicaid that are funded by the taxpayers.

Newton’s first law states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion along a straight line, unless it is acted upon by an external force — inertia, in a word. That is a concept that often applies to government programs and agencies. In this instance, the innovation of the Integrated Care Network represents the external force that is moving Medicaid to a sounder fiscal footing.

Greg Reed is the Alabama Senate Majority Leader, and represents Senate District 5, which is comprised of all or parts of Walker, Winston, Fayette, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson counties.

3 hours ago

Ivey invites Alabamians to join as she lights Alabama’s official Christmas tree

Governor Kay Ivey has invited Alabamians to join her for the official state Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The program is scheduled for Friday, December 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the front steps of the Alabama State Capitol.

“I invite all Alabamians, friends, and neighbors to join us here at the Capitol for that special occasion. This is always a wonderful event and serves as such a great reminder of the spirit of hope that Christmas brings,” said Ivey in a news release.

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According to the release, Alabama’s 2019 Christmas Tree is a 40-foot-tall Eastern Red Cedar. It was grown on Mr. and Mrs. Ray Allen’s Farm in Bullock County. When lit, the tree will have around 37,000 lights strung on its branches. It will also be decorated with special bicentennial ornaments to celebrate Alabama’s 200th birthday.

At around 5:00 p.m. on Friday, the 151st Army National Guard Band will begin playing. At 5:30, the ceremony will begin. The program will also have a performance by the Forest Avenue Elementary School Choir.

Ivey will be joined in making remarks by commander and president of Air University at Maxwell Airforce Base Lieutenant General James Hecker and others.

The citizens assembled are invited to join the governor in counting down before she flips the switch to light the tree.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 hours ago

Merry and bright: How Regions’ headquarters building lights became a holiday tradition

It’s a tradition that’s now over 40 years strong.

Every year, the Regions Center tower in Birmingham, Alabama, is transformed into a brilliant holiday display – with Christmas trees, a massive wreath and a giant stocking celebrating the season every evening.

The lights are visible for miles – from vistas along Red Mountain, to travelers crossing through town on nearby interstates, and to airline passengers about to land at the airport a few miles to the east.

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“Every year, we’re asked how we do it, and while we’ve made a couple updates over time, the process is still very similar to the way it was in the late 1970s,” explained Emilio Cerice, Senior Vice President of Corporate Real Estate for Regions Bank. “The lighting display didn’t begin until the late 70s, but it turned out, the stage was set for the display about 10 years earlier.”

While the building was under construction between 1968 and 1971, Cerice said a light tube was placed in a small area above each window starting on the fifth floor. Initially, the idea was to light the building in bright white every night. But the energy crisis of the 1970s brought that to an end.

“The history of using the lights as a Christmas display started after the energy crisis was over,” Cerice said. “Back then, the building was owned by First National Bank of Birmingham and a company called Sonat – or Southern Natural Gas. The details have been hard to pinpoint, but it’s been said that a Sonat executive was in Houston and saw a building that used its ‘curtain wall’ design – similar to what we have – for a Christmas display. That executive came back to Birmingham and led the effort to get a display here.”

Over time, the building has gone on to carry the AmSouth name; then, following the 2006 merger of AmSouth and Regions, the Regions name and its updated logo were placed atop the tower. But through it all, the holiday lights have remained.

“It’s something we look forward to every year – and it’s something the city looks forward to,” Cerice said. “In recent years, it’s been fun to watch social media and see people sharing creative photos of the building or sharing their memories of coming downtown to see the lights.”

Preparations for the display get underway around late summer or early fall each year.

“The images are created by placing red and green ‘gel sleeves’ over the white light tubes above each window,” Cerice said. “Crews operate with a grid showing the pattern of the display on each side of the building, and that lets them know which windows need which colors. Then, they change the display in February or March every year to the golfer image that we display during the Regions Tradition golf tournament. That one uses some different shades of green, as well as blue, so there’s a lot of changing and re-changing of the gel sleeves that takes place.”

Testing of the Christmas display takes place during the early morning hours in the days before Thanksgiving. If needed, any corrections are made. Then, at 5pm on the day after Thanksgiving, the display comes to life. It remains illuminated until midnight each evening through Dec. 31.

“If you’re near a window from the fifth floor and up when the display comes on each night, it’s very noticeable,” Cerice said. “A lot of people like to try to figure out where their office is in the tree, or the wreath, or whichever side of the building they’re on. We had a team that moved offices two years ago, and not long after they moved in, they looked at the lights above the windows and tried to figure out, ‘So where are we within the tree here?’ They compared the colors of the lights to a video of the building on YouTube and determined they were almost halfway up the tree in their new offices.”

Besides the holiday display and the golfer, the tower has hosted two other displays.

“In 1991, there was an American flag and the letters ‘USA’ in support of those serving during the Gulf War. Then, in 1996, there was an Olympic torch and the Olympic Rings when Summer Olympic soccer was being played at Legion Field,” Cerice said.

The Regions Center tower rises nearly 400 feet over 5th Avenue North at 20th Street North in downtown Birmingham. Some of the best views are from Birmingham’s Railroad Park, as well as from Vulcan Park on Red Mountain.

“Birmingham is our headquarters city. We’re proud to occupy a prominent spot in the city’s skyline,” Cerice said. “And we’re proud to carry on this tradition.”

(Courtesy of Regions Bank)