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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.

8 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

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First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

8 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

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That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

9 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

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“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

10 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

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According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

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To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.