The Wire

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

    Excerpt:

    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:

  • Rep. Byrne to Hold 12 Town Hall Meetings

    From a Congressman Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) announced today that he will hold twelve town hall meetings during the August District Work Period.

    Known as the “Better Off Now” Town Hall Tour, Congressman Byrne will hold public town halls in each of the counties that make up Alabama’s First Congressional District. Byrne will discuss how the American people are better off now thanks to a booming economy, stronger military, and safer communities.

    Byrne ranks among the top of all Members of Congress for the number of town hall meetings held. Since assuming office in late 2013, Byrne has held over 100 town hall meetings, including meetings over the phone and through Facebook.

    All the town hall meetings are open to the public and free to attend. All the information can be found online below.

  • HudsonAlpha technology director to present at Google Cloud conference

    Excerpt from a HudsonAlpha news release:

    HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Technology Director Katreena Mullican has been invited to present at the Google Next ‘18 conference in San Francisco, Calif, July 24-26.

    Google Next is an international conference where more than 10,000 developers, technology leaders, and entrepreneurs come together to have a collaborative discussion about the Google Cloud Platform.

    Mullican has more than 20 years of experience in architecting Linux, virtualization and hybrid cloud solutions. As HudsonAlpha’s Cloud Whisperer, Mullican brings her expertise in automation of on-prem composable and public cloud infrastructure for scientific applications and workflows to the Institute.

    “HudsonAlpha is one of the top sequencing centers in the world, so it’s my job to think outside the box to design hybrid platforms appropriate for our sequencing and research workloads,” said Mullican.

    Mullican will participate in a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cloud Talk Tuesday at 1:00 pm in the South Hall to discuss how HudsonAlpha uses the composable HPE Synergy platform for an on-premises Kubernetes cluster that can scale to Google Cloud Platform.

Dr. Harry Reeder: The sexual revolution an ‘all-out assault’ on our culture

(Pixabay)

During the Friday broadcast of “In Perspective,” Tom Lamprecht and Harry Reeder discussed the recent Arizona court case involving Brush & Nib Studio owned by two openly Christian calligraphers, Breanna Koske and Joanna Duka.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Karen Mullins ruled these two women could be compelled by the government to use their artistic ability to service same-sex weddings. Although the judge acknowledged that they undoubtedly engaged in a form of speech, she ruled against them since they did not engage in expressive speech. The government defined the types of speech that could be compelled and not compelled.

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According to Dr. Reeder, we should look at what is happening in terms of the First Amendment with a Christian world and life view.

First, the judge decided that the founding fathers did not mean the free practice of speech, they meant the free practice of expressive speech, and what these calligraphers were doing was not expressive.

Reeder responds to that, saying, “That’s a nonsensical statement. All speech is expressive.”

Second, Reeder states that we are seeing the First Amendment “attacked by the sexual revolution.”

He adds, “You are not going to be able to hide, whether you are calligraphers or cake bakers, or whether you work as a salesperson, this sexual revolution takes no prisoners. You are not going to be able to hide. The churches are going to have to identify their sexual ethics and how they hold to it, compassionately but with conviction. You are going to have to do it in the workplace, you are going to have to do it in your home, you are going to be faced in the school system.”

As further evidence, Reeder mentions a recent Planned Parenthood of New York advertising campaign that was so vile that the details of it could not be discussed on his program.

“Planned Parenthood, has made it very clear. We exist to promote this sexual revolution of sexual anarchy, sexual deviancy; both verbally and visually,” Reeder states. “This is an all-out assault on the culture in the promotion of pagan sexual promiscuity and perversion. Anarchy in the name of liberty, and the removal of any ethical considerations and any ethical boundaries is incessant and insistent.”

British government resignations signal problems

(Pixabay)

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BRITISH GOVERNMENT RESIGNATIONS SIGNAL PROBLEMS

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, World Magazine is reporting that British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who served as the key campaigner for Brexit, Britain’s departure from the European Union, resigned last Monday. His resignation is the latest move threatening Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and comes after Brexit secretary David Davis resigned on Sunday night. Steve Baker, a minister in Britain’s Brexit Department followed with his resignation almost immediately.

Harry, it was about two years ago that the citizens of Great Britain voted to leave the EU. It appears that Theresa May might be slow-walking that process and she’s running into some roadblocks.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, it’s really been interesting to watch this implementation of the popular vote in Britain to exit the European Union, the EU, and to watch its implementation under the administration of Prime Minister Theresa May.

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And, of course, the sideshow — and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way — has also been the relationship between Prime Minister Theresa May and our own President Trump, which all coincides, by the way, because while all of this is happening, President Trump is on his way to Britain and the reports were that Prime Minister May — it may have contributed to this — had given strict directives that he was not to meet with Brexit supporters, even those that reside within her administration.

PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY SEEMS TO BE SLOW-WALKING BREXIT

As you and I were considering this and I was doing some research, it seems to be pretty undeniable, for whatever reason, that the prime minister is not fully supportive of the vote of the British people to exit the European Union. On the one hand, she’s tapping the brakes — she’s pumping the brakes — to slow everything down as much as possible and perhaps, in a year to two years, maybe see if a movement to reverse the vote could take place. Now within her own administration are those who campaigned for and are supportive of Brexit and they’re calling attention to it by their resignation, which has put her entire government in a precarious position and a possible vote of no confidence may just be right around the corner.

Let’s look at the overall issue of Brexit — that is, Britain exiting the European Union — and why. Tom, as you know, in the last century, we had two world wars that originated in Europe and originated out of national conflict so there were a couple of efforts to try to put in place an organization that would forestall any future conflict — a way to settle issues without the entire world being embroiled in a way.

IS EXITING THE EUROPEAN UNIT A GOOD IDEA?

First was the League of Nations after World War I and it didn’t work. Then came the United Nations and, while it’s not been as effective as many would like and has become an instrument in which people are using it to advance their own national interest instead of being a place to settle national issues, the greater fear always is that it becomes a world government and, by so becoming a world government, then national sovereignty is lost.

That looming specter out of the United Nations has an even compelling emotional response in Europe because what has developed in the last 25 years is the European Union and, what was meant to be an alliance of cooperation, well, it has become almost a settled fact that the European Union and its directives supersede national directives. And that’s what happened in Britain — “We don’t want the European Union telling us what kind of light bulbs we can use, how we recycle our trash,” all of the things that the European Union was now giving directives to nations, and they said, “No, we want our national sovereignty back,” which is understandable.

NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY IS IMPORTANT AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T TURN INTO NATIONALISM

Now, here is where, from a Christian world and life view, we recognize that God has ordained the ethos — that is, the nations of the world — and, as these nations exist, should their sovereignty be superseded by imperial movements of one nation or by imperial structures that dominate the nations and I think that’s what the pushback was in Britain.

As I listened to the debate in England, it seemed as if everyone was saying, “We’re fine with defense alliances and trade alliances such as NATO. We are not fine with losing our national sovereignty to the European Union.”

What readily raises its head in a fallen world are two dynamics concerning nations. One is nationalism. As you know, the populist presidency that we are now under in President Trump has tapped into this notion of “America First.” Now, President Trump has said, “I am not saying America First and only. What I am saying is what I think every nation should do — whenever you make a decision, it’s not in disregard to other nations, but it is in regard to we’ve got to do what’s best for our own nation. I was elected to be president of this nation and then the well-being of this nation will position us to be of benefit to other nations.”

CARE AND PRECEDENCE OF ONE’S OWN NATION IS BIBLICAL

I compare it to that emotionally jarring moment where, every time I get on an airplane and come those words, “In the unlikely event of an emergency, your oxygen mask will come down. Please secure your own mask before you assist someone else.” Well, you know, in my heart, that jars me emotionally because what I want to do is assist the other person in the virtue of sacrifice and helping them but, when you stop and think about it, that kind of emergency where you’re losing oxygen, you can’t help the other person without having oxygen.

That’s why, in the law of God, it says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In light of God’s love for you and your love for the Lord, you need to secure that intimacy with the Lord and that’s what enables you to love your neighbor thoughtfully, Biblically and effectively.

You understand, in a true approach to this, we have to handle our nation’s well-being first but you can’t let it slip into nationalism because, if you have nationalism, then you’re going to have imperialism, which is the robbing and domination of other nations in order to take from them what is theirs and add to your own coffers. National sovereignty cannot become an occasion for nationalism. On the other hand, national sovereignty is crucial for nations to be in position to rightly help other nations.

THERE IS HOPE FOR ENGLAND TO REBOUND WITH GOOD LEADERSHIP AND A GOSPEL AWAKENING

From a Christian world and life view, my ancestry comes from there — I’m one-fourth Scot, one-fourth Irish, one-fourth Scots-Irish, and one-fourth English — so I look to that nation with some interest and I would hope and pray, for the well-being of England politically and economically, that she would carry out the vote of the people and do it in such a way that nationalism doesn’t come to the forefront which would lead to another imperialistic movement or to an isolationist position. Nations, like people, need to hear the commandment of the Lord — we want to be in the world but not of the world.

And then, finally, what I would say for this is I am the beneficiary of a great Gospel awakening in our nation. It didn’t start in our nation; it started in England. I long for the day when, like the Oxford 12 — men like Charles Wesley, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Daniel Rowland, Ronald Sennick, and others — I am praying for God to raise up a Gospel awakening within England. It is in desperate need of the gospel to move forward. The answer is not found in nationalism, the answer is not found in isolationism and the answer is not found in imperialism. The answer is found in the movement of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the population and may the Lord raise up great gospel preachers in England.

I look with interest in this political conundrum that Prime Minister Theresa May faces. I look with interest in how it’s going to affect the NATO summit and the side discussions that she and her government were having with Donald Trump concerning a trade alliance between England and America and how that’s going to affect that discussion.

While I look for all of that, I look to the heavens and pray, God, open the heavens up and pour down a gospel-saturating movement upon England and upon my own nation and may it go to the whole world. I pray may the grace of God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

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

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

What Alan Dershowitz’ shunning says about snowflake culture and intolerance for debate

(YHN/Pixabay)

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ALAN DERSHOWITZ OSTRACIZED FOR NOT CONDEMNING TRUMP

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you to an article out of Fox News. We referenced this in a program we did a few days ago. Harvard law professor emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, recently came out in an interview and said that he has been basically ostracized by what he thought were his own friends at high-end seasonal destination Martha’s Vineyard.

Dershowitz, a famed lawyer, lamented the efforts to eject him from social life at Martha’s Vineyard amid his outspoken criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the alleged collusion with Russia. He said, “So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from the social life on Martha’s Vineyard.”

DR. REEDER: And, by the way, it cuts both ways: he was quite the defender in what he thought were overreaches on Clinton’s impeachment on constitutional grounds. And so now he’s being ostracized in the arena of Martha’s Vineyard, which is the gathering of the cultural elite in society.

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IS THIS THE PROGRESSIVES’ NEW TACTIC OF EDGING OUT OPPOSITION?

These summer months, he finds himself not invited to the wine and cheese moments and he’s lamenting it but you can also see that he’s taking advantage of this moment to point out what is happening in this continued snowflake culture where, if someone disagrees with you, what you do is ostracize them from a conversation and you exclude them from the company that you keep.

Actually, I think he’s being excluded for another reason and that reason is one of the reasons why I wanted us to go ahead and take this on today. What we’re seeing in our society is this inability to allow the First Amendment to flourish because, whenever people have ideas, ideas are expressed in words and words and ideas have consequences, and if the words and the ideas are more persuasive or more influential than yours and you want yours to succeed, then what you do is you try to ostracize it, shout it down and you try to intimidate it.

COLLEGE CAMPUSES ARE ALSO SWITCHING FROM FREE DEBATE TO NO DEBATE

We’re watching it in our college campuses which, historically, have been a place where free speech is supposed to reign with supremacy so that people are educated in the context of debate on ideas and we see that inability to allow free speech — particularly, in the progressive agenda, the socialist agenda and in the agenda of the culturally elite — they cannot stand the debate of does gender begin at conception or does gender begin when the person declares what gender they want to be and does life begin at conception or is life only sacred if the people who are having it want it because it meets the test of what is acceptable and convenient for them.

Along with euthanasia, abortion, transgender movement, the sexual anarchy of the sexual revolution and those who embrace this secular world and life view of the sovereign self as opposed to the consistent world and life view of a sovereign God and a Creator who has so established the dignity of life, and marriage, and sexuality, and work and all of those things and the right role of government, by the way, then what you do is you get rid of the people who disagree with this new agenda.

As my daddy used to say, “You can’t stand the heat in the kitchen,” when the conversation is beyond your ability to refute, what clearly makes sense?

WHEN DID A PERSON WITH A DIFFERENT OPINION BECOME YOUR ENEMY?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me go a little deeper on what you’ve just said and I’ll put it in the form of a question. What has happened in the last several decades that, when we disagree with someone on a political issue, it has gone from, “Okay, I will agree to disagree,” to today, if you disagree, “You are now my enemy and I will do everything I can to destroy you” — what’s the underlying cause?

DR. REEDER: Because social secularism — the sexual revolution, the socialist agenda — really is a religious movement. It’s an issue of where people’s hearts are. When you have a world and life view, Tom, in which the only thing that’s right is what I declare is right, and now you’re confronted with a world and life view that says, “No, there are things that are objectively right and objectively wrong. There’s something that’s good and there’s something that’s not good. There’s something that’s beautiful and there’s something that’s not beautiful. There’s something that’s true and there’s something that’s not true,” and you run into that world and life view which makes sense and which is rational and influential, then this becomes a heart issue — it is the exaltation in religion of the sovereign self otherwise masquerading as secular humanism — then you have to excommunicate those ideas.

The way that you excommunicate them is you try to intimidate people into silence, you try to marginalize them, you try to shame them or you just simply ostracize them. And Dershowitz who, by the way, clearly is no evangelical Christian but he’s in trouble because he has supported Trump’s Middle East policies, he has supported most of his immigration policies and he has exposed the overreach of the FBI situation in the special counsel probe that’s going on — which, by the way, he also did in the Clinton era — but, in today’s agenda, part of its mantra is the destruction of the current president and not the criticism of his policies, simply, and debating that, but his personal destruction so now Dershowitz is seen as an enemy and, therefore, he is ostracized.

THE FLAW IN DEBATE SHOWS FLAW IN THE ARGUMENT

Tom, I think that always exposes the weakness of an argument. Whenever someone raises their voice, not expressing emotion of their commitment to their idea, but raising their voice to express an ability to emotionally and verbally oppress the other person’s idea when they resort to profanity, when they resort to tactics of intimidation and when they resort to exclusion and being ostracized, then by and large, almost 90 percent of the time, that is the revealing of either a weak mind or a weak argument.

The people who have a good mind and have a good argument relish the discussion, relish the debate because first, they have confidence in their position and, second, because the debate will help sharpen them in their position or, if necessary, change them.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO DEBATE 

Tom, every time I preach, I always pray what we call in worship “The Prayer of Illumination” that God would bless his people and overcome the inadequacies of the preacher — that’s me — which are many and would work in the lives of the hearers so they have eyes to see and ears to hear. One of those prayers that I many times pray is this: “Lord, in these moments, from your Word by your Spirit, would you affirm what we know that is right, would you correct what we think is right but is wrong and would you teach us what we need to know and teach us what is right?” Tom, I think that’s absolutely crucial in life.

OUR FOUNDERS KNEW THAT FREE SPEECH WAS THE CORNERSTONE OF OTHER FREEDOMS

By the way, the free practice of religion and free practice of speech and the free practice of assembly, those are inseparably entwined. That’s why they’re not separate amendments but they’re part of those six affirmations of the First Amendment. I think the founding fathers were absolutely wise in putting them all together — “See, they won’t let him assemble. See, they try to control his speech. ‘Unless you say my acceptable speech, then you’re not allowed in this community.’”

Well, it’s one thing for you to have an organization and you have every right to determine who’s going to be in that organization. It’s another thing when you try to exclude people because you can’t handle their arguments within a city or within a state or within a community. And that’s what he’s experiencing and that’s what we’re seeing on our college campuses — the fragility of the secular humanist position and, therefore, the boisterous and intimidating tactics of exclusion.

HOPE IN CHRIST CAN BRIDGE DIVIDES

Tom, I have something that I would like to freely say and I would like to offer it into the public square and that’s this: God made you and the way things are going now is not the way God made them. The way things are going now is the way we’ve made them. We have brought the sin that has brought the consequences but this God Who made us for what is good and beautiful and true that we have marred with our sin, has also spoken another Word and that Word is His Son, Jesus Christ — “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only Begotten from the Father full of grace and truth.”

I’d like to announce that freely this day because this same Savior came and went to a cross, died for our sins and will not only forgive us of the guilt of our sins but will set us free from the power of sin and will set us on a journey to grow in His grace and assassinate sin instead of assassinating others and their rights. And then you can freely speak with one another with the Good News that Jesus Christ loves sinners, changes sinners — come just as you are and you’ll never leave just as you came.

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

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

 

Parents denied access to public school sex education materials is shocking government overreach

(Pixabay/YHN)

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PUBLIC SCHOOLS DENY PARENTS RIGHTS TO APPROVE — OR EVEN VIEW –SEX EDUCATION MATERIALS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to take you to two separate stories, one out of World Magazine and the other out of The Daily Wire but both, however, have the same theme. One of the stories out of Pennsylvania is a school district, after roughly 2,800 were forced to watch an LGBT video during LGBT unity week back in April, parents and conservative activists asked the district to provide links to the video so that they could see what the children were forced to watch. The answer they got? No.

In Virginia, a Virginia school board, this month, approved drastic changes to its district’s sex education curriculum despite strong parental oppositions. Once again, the parents were told, “It’s not your concern.”

DR. REEDER: Included in that was the removal of clergy as those “trusted individuals” to call upon in case of counseling. Now, the reason why for that clearly is because, within that number of clergy are going to be those who have convictions concerning the Biblical and historical definition of marriage as a man and a woman for life and that sexuality is within marriage and that marriage is a man and a woman for life and, therefore, clergy become the casualties.

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Tom, let’s see what they reveal concerning this intentional, and pervasive and highly effective movement of a neopagan world and life view that ultimately destroys the foundational institutions of a culture as it attempts to eradicate the historic influences of a Christian world and life view in the culture, particularly around the matters of marriage, and family, and sexuality and individual dignity and inalienable rights — that is, God-given rights that are to be protected by a government — as opposed to the increasing socialist notion that the government has the power to determine the rights and give the rights and they’re government-based, not God-based.

The historic position is that they’re God-given and that our government is called to protect those God-given rights and now we have a new movement that the government can invent rights and then give them and then, of course, protect them by coercion as you see here, in both of these cases.

PENNSYLVANIA CASE WAS EGREGIOUS ABUSE OF POWER

In the Pennsylvania case, you see that the students in this school district were required to go and watch these LGBTQ films. Parents naturally say, “What is it that you are exposing my children to? I want to know.” And then the school district, after a lengthy process, determines with the ruling that, “No, we’re not going to let you have those,” and their excuse is that this was a student project so their privacy is to be protected. Well, the reality is it was not a student project; it was an external organization declared to be an LGBT-straight alliance, but it was not an internal movement and was an external movement. That, with the cultural elite that control the school board, they then begin to impose that upon that particular school district and upon those children, the world and life view that normalizes sexuality outside of marriage, and sexuality outside of the natural sex of heterosexuality between a man and a woman and then the ethical dimension that it is to be within marriage.

In Fairfax now, they even went to the point of removing, even as an element of sex education, abstinence, which, of course, we know is not only consistent with a Biblical world and life view — you abstain from sex and you teach people how to and why to both ethically and practically — and, by the way, that’s 100 percent effective on sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, etc., but now you can’t even teach that in Virginia.

Not only did they make the children go and make the children watch but now they will not let the parents see what the children watched so what does that tell you? Well, first, the sexual revolution is a reality, it is incessant, it is intentional and it is going to use the powers of the government as it extends into the arena of public education because, if you can get the children and frame their mind and their world and life view in terms of this sexual revolution, then you’ve got the next generation. And, to do that, you’re going to have to sidestep what we have always affirmed and that is the supremacy of parental rights over the education of their children.

PUBLIC EDUCATION EQUALS PUBLIC CONTROL WHICH MUST BE MONITORED

When the public education movement began in the 19th century, these things were warned that, if you put public education in the hands of government and then you impose compulsory public education, it’s just a matter of time until the state and the cultural elite will seize that as their number one most effective method to make children of the state — not children who know how to live within a state, that is, we used to call it civics, but children of the state instead of children of the family.

Secondly, its primary — and not exclusive, but its primary — weapon is the public-school system and, with the capturing of the minds of those who control that system — administrators, teachers’ organizations, outside organizations that are invited in. With that influence on the children, it is now being used and it is being used with power in that the children had no choice and they had to go to it.

The fact that they would not show or give them the links to these films which should be available tells you there is something in those films they don’t want seen. It’s a shot across the bow: your children are our children, not your children. It is the cultural elite again telling the rank and file of humanity, “We are smarter than you and, by the way, you can’t stop us. They’re our children more than they are your children.”

PARENTS, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO VOTE FOR GOOD LEADERS

I have one simple response. Those people are in those positions and you still reside within a democratic process. How do you let such people rule your school district? There is a school board that is elected — you put them there and you need to put people up there who will, if you’re going to have a public-school system, will make it subservient to the parents, not a power that imposes upon the parents and the families and then the families serve the public-school system and its objectives but the public-school system serves the public. You have a means to address that and someone needs to seize this particular moment and create the movement that, if you’re going to have a public-school system, it is going to serve the public, not the public serve the system.

You cannot go to bed at night and not know that your children are the targets of this sexual revolution. As parents, you may have to make a decision that, if we cannot get control of this system so that it goes back to doing what we actually established it to do over 100 years ago — reading, writing and arithmetic — then you need to leave that system.

 

CHURCHES, TAKE ON THIS CULTURE WAR WITH PROPER CREATION (AND SEX) EDUCATION

Tom, let me just finish up today’s program with just a word to churches. We need to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, when the Bible says that we make disciples, we are to teach them all that the Lord has commanded and that includes a right view of humanity made in the image of God, male and female, and the dignity that’s fastened to that. It also calls us to uphold revealed creation mandates such as marriage and sexuality within marriage.

The fact that our parents are not able to respond to this, I believe, is in some degree because of either the inability or the refusal of churches to take on these issues in the curriculum of a Christian world and life view so that people love the Lord with all their mind, heart and soul. The Gospel is at the core and the Gospel takes you high, deep and wide. It takes you into all of life to capture every thought unto the obedience of Christ and that’s also how are we made, why are we made, why are we here and why our institutions such as family, marriage and sexuality within marriage are important in the education of our children. That needs to be in the hands of parents and any instrument that supersedes it, including the public schools, must be changed or cast to the side in the trash heap of culture.

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

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

Why the Supreme Court’s labor union decision is a win for freedom and education

(W.Miller/YHN)

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UNION MANDATE STRUCK DOWN BY SUPREME COURT

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, one of the final decisions of the latest term of the Supreme Court came out about a week ago. It ruled that government workers cannot be compelled to contribute to labor unions. The 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME scrapped a 41-year-old ruling that allowed states to require public employees to pay fees to unions, the so-called “fair share fees.”

World Magazine came out with an op-ed piece talking about the fact that this is a great boost for school choice advocates. Why? Well, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, founder and president of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, puts it this way: the court’s decision provides parents, educators and reformers the opportunity to overcome two of the biggest obstacles to transforming education in America — the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Experts say this will have positive implications for those who are advocating school choice.

DR. REEDER: Tom, one of the most powerful instruments in politics are the contributions that come from unions in general. What this ruling dealt with are the unions that exist in the public sphere — that is, the sector of government and government employees. 

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And the ruling then extends itself that they cannot coerce their members into joining and paying the fees. Well, if they have the fees, then they have the unbelievable cache of money that they can use to advance their agenda, which they sell as being an asset to the teachers and to those who are in the public-school system.

NEW RULES MAY MEAN NEW FREEDOM FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS

And so now they’re told you can’t make teachers join and that means you can’t take their fees. Historically, every teacher had to pay whether you joined or not and, of course, the coffers then allowed them to have an outsized influence on the political process — particularly, by the way, the Democratic Party has captured the money from these unions. I am aware of literally dozens that do not want to be a part of such a union and for them to be in a position where they’re not punished and they do not have to participate, this ruling now opens the door for them to “declare their independence” from these controlling unions.

Tom, let me put it in a very positive way: I actually live in an area where there are a number of excellent public schools. And one of the reasons that there are a number of excellent public schools is that parents have gotten involved and the reason they’ve gotten involved is the public schools are serving — unlike yesterday’s program where we saw the public schools disenfranchising parents and their families and furthering the LGBTQ agenda in Virginia and in Pennsylvania — I’ve seen here a number of our districts actually attempt to work with the parents and respond to the parents.

We’ve had administrators and we’ve had teachers that are not only gifted but highly committed to their calling and properly supported by parents and, therefore, there are certain school systems that people really want to be a part of as well as charter schools that are advancing the cause of education in at least somewhat of a beneficial curriculum and outcome.

WHAT WILL THE RESULTS BE IN THE POLITICAL ARENA?

I think this ruling is going to have potentially significant outcome, not only because the cache of money that’s been available to buy influence and then the political parties that have made use of that to accomplish their ends and declare that, “Oh, well, all the people in the public-school system support us and the unions support us.” No, there is a small group of people who control the unions that support you. Actually, many of the teachers are not voting for those candidates.

And so that money is now going to be removed because these teachers are not going to have to join and they’re not going to have to give their dues. I think you’re going to see some significant movement in terms of teachers, administrators, the increase of school choice in some form or fashion, whether it’s vouchers or charter schools.

I think you’re going to see all of that, which only portends for a brighter future for the possibility of electing the kind of leadership you need for the public-school systems in the school commissions and the school councils. And then, also, that teachers are going to be able to vote with their feet, and vote with their heart and vote with their lives in terms of what they think needs to be done for the lives of the children. Now the sociologists that are in control of these unions with their cultural agenda are going to be disenfranchised. This is really interesting how this headline ties into what we looked at yesterday.

TRUMP ENDS OBAMA-ERA AFFIRMATIVE ACTION GUIDANCES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me also bring up another story out of World Magazine. “The Trump administration will encourage schools not to consider race in admissions, a move that reverses Obama-era guidelines on affirmative action. The Justice Department just recently rescinded seven policy guidances from the Education Department’s Civil Rights Division and restored Bush-era policies of race-neutral admissions. This out of The New York Times.”

DR. REEDER: What’s really interesting, personally, I just want you to know, Tom, I have vacillated on this issue because there is little doubt in my mind that, in the Jim Crow era of the “separate but equal,” the notion that equal resources were available to everyone is just demonstrably and objectively proven wrong. Does there need to be some kind of catch-up on that? Yes.

DOES THIS LEAVE ROOM FOR BETTER CHANGE IN EQUALITY?

However, I have been persuaded — and, by the way, by some African-American brothers — that many of them sense that this actually contributes to a paternalistic racism that, unless we change these metrics, you can’t succeed. I know that that’s not true because we’re all made in the image of God and so I fully reject that.

I actually think that what you may see in this decision is perhaps an exceptional explosion of advancement of education across the board into every segment of our society because we all are being challenged that we all can respond to the curriculum and you can succeed. And, when you put the effort in and succeed, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, you are going to be affirmed and rewarded according to your commitment to compete, according to your commitment to improve and according to your commitment to mature. And the places where it has already been applied, we’ve already seen that in those educational institutions.

And then, when people are looking at each other in the community, they aren’t looking at segments that have come through a different portal, but they are looking at one another who, as a group, have made this progress together under the same challenges. I think that will actually produce more unity in our country, which of course is something I love for and desire. And not just, of course, is something I long for and desire — it’s something I would call all of our listeners to promote as well — is that what we would develop in this country is an ideal of what it means to function with virtue and value, embrace what is good and beautiful and true and encourage one another through that process together as Americans who aren’t defined by any ethnicity or any race, but are defined by a certain set of virtues and values.

BRINGING GOD INTO THE CAUSE HELPS US BENEFIT SOCIETY AS A WHOLE

And I believe those are best supported and only rightly supported by God’s common grace and the influence of Christianity which promotes public policies and virtues and values whereby humanity flourishes, establishing the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sexuality, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of work and the sanctity of equality — not that we’re all interchangeable, but that we all stand on the same ground before God, and we all stand having been made in the image of God and we all stand with certain inalienable rights from God which are liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s not the guarantee of a government check for the government’s definition of happiness in the arenas of life, but the government protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and then, everyone on the same level playing field, moves toward that pursuit of happiness with the values and virtues that permeate the culture and God-ordained institutions that are foundational for life.

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

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

Should sex offenders be able to adopt?

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PEDOPHILE ADOPTION RULES FOR SEX OFFENDERS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, today, I’d like to take you to an article out of the U.K. Telegraph. An individual who’s in academia in England at the London School of Economics, one Helen Reece, had a personal encounter with Theresa May in which she asked the prime minister to relax rules which automatically ban sex offenders from caring for children, saying this could be a breech of their human rights.

In an article in the respected Child and Family Law Quarterly, Ms. Reece suggested that reoffending rates were not high among sex criminals, adding that, despite growing public concern over pedophilia, the number of child sex murders are actually very low. In her article, Ms. Reece suggested that the review should also introduce an assumption that sex offenders, including child abusers, pose no threat once they had served their sentence.

DR. REEDER: Tom, when we were considering the programs that would be appropriate for us to deal with, this was one that was very difficult for me on a couple of bases. First is just the absurdity of the petition from this “law reader,” Mrs. Reece, to the prime minister, Theresa May. I hate to even give it any airtime, to tell you the truth but there are some things revealed in this and the way it is gaining traction in the news media in the United Kingdom and knowing that we basically are tracking about 10 to 15 years behind the cultural disintegration of Europe, we probably need to deal with it.

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THREE MAJOR FLAWS 

There are a number of things that she asserts that need to be taken on. The first is the notion that, if someone commits a crime, if they go to prison and/or pay a fine, that will rehabilitate their heart. Prison is not rehabilitation — prison is there to protect the public from people who do certain types of crimes, secondly, to isolate them from the culture and then, thirdly, to become a process whereby reparations to victims can take place.

The fact that someone serves their time is not an assumption that they’re rehabilitated unless they prove otherwise. No, on the contrary, whenever someone engages in sexually perverse activities and they have been convicted of them, the assumption is that is a heart-soul issue and that doesn’t change without a heart-soul change and that needs to be demonstrated.

Secondly, there are certain crimes that everyone understands that suspend certain human rights. This “human right” to adopt is not an unalienable right — it is a right of privilege and it is something that is given to people when they demonstrate the trust factor that you are willing to put the life of a child into their hands. And someone with a record of pedophilia and someone with a record of sexual perversion is not someone that you put the life of a child into their hands unless there is longevity and demonstration of changed lives.

Thirdly, we again see our culture’s view of children — we already have the evidence with abortion — that, “Children are there for my fulfillment. If we are pregnant with a child and that child is not going to be fulfilling by its imperfections or its untimeliness, then I have a right to kill that child in the womb.”

You see that cavalier, irrational, nonsensical view of children and, now, if we would like to experiment with a child to put them into the hands of a convicted pedophile, that pedophile’s human rights and desire for adoption surpasses the child. The child again is just a commodity.

That brings me to another thing: this absurd state that we need to relax the rules prohibiting pedophiles from adopting children because the rates of pedophiles killing children are amazingly low. Well, I would love to know what is amazingly low? “Pedophiles only kill this many children so, I’ll tell you what, since they only kill this many children and we only lose that many, that’s a sufferable loss. We can take a chance on that.” Even if you have any evidence that pedophilia can lead to the destruction of a child’s life, then we should never expose any children to such a precarious existence.

A RIDICULOUS ARGUMENT

Finally, I would say, in response to this, while the argument is an acceptable low number of children are murdered by pedophiles that we can take a chance, why is that metric being used? What we’re looking for is not, “Hey, by the way, they’ve got a good chance of surviving and not being killed,” but we want to put children in homes that are going to nurture them, develop them, grow them and raise them up where we have every confidence in our vetting that this child’s life isn’t going to simply possibly survive.

Instead, this child is being placed in a home in which they’re going to be nurtured and developed because this child is made in the image of God and defenseless and when we put them somewhere, it’s not to fulfill the wishes of someone who is a convicted pedophile. This child is going to be placed where they will have the best opportunity to grow and develop.

Therefore, Tom, if I can just merely sum this up, for those whom have been convicted of pedophilia, that is a deeply ingrained and entangling sin that has so many facets to it. It desperately calls out, first of all, for the work of the Gospel that you can be forgiven of your sins and you can be transformed. Secondly, it calls for the focus of society to make sure that, while you want people to be liberated from such practices, you also must protect society from those practices because they find their fulfillment in the most defenseless people of all, children, and you certainly do not want to expose any children to the possibility of the trauma of such acts and then even to the loss of their life because of where these acts can lead to.

BELIEVERS SHOULD CONSIDER ADOPTION  

And then the last thing I’ll say is this: I want to say to any and all out there, pray through whether God would have you as someone who might open up your home to adoption. Even as we do this program, just two Lord’s Days ago, this wonderful couple in our family, an interracial marriage, they have opened up their heart and their life and they’re bringing in these children and they’re adopting them. They brought them forward for covenantal baptism just a couple of Sundays ago. And I’ve watched what they do and then I’ve watched the other families that are doing that.

Now, listen, not everybody is called to adopt — not everybody is called to do that, I’m fully aware of that so don’t, out of any false guilt, go do that — but if the Lord places that within your heart and if we as a church can support such people that are doing that foster care and adoptive parents, then we need to do that. Why? Because we need children to be placed in the best possible homes if they are orphaned by virtue of the death of their parents, or by the abandonment of their parents or by the incarceration of their parents. If these children need a home, then let’s provide the best possible home. And I appeal to the church of Jesus Christ, let’s all of us pray through how we can, as churches, support adoption and fostering and pray through if God would call you and your family to do that.

LET’S CUT THE APPEAL IN THE U.K, REHABILITATE THE OFFENDERS AND BRING ADOPTION TO THE CHURCHES

That’s the bigger deal for me in all of this. Certainly, I want to address this other initiative that seems to be gaining some traction in the United Kingdom — that it would not gain traction here and at least raise up my simple voice from a Christian world and life view — and also calling for the Gospel ministry to pedophiles on a one-to-one relationship and protect them from themselves by not extending what is not an unalienable right but a privileged right of adoption to them. There’s too much that they already need to work on in their life and then let’s bring the Gospel ministry of truth and love to them.

And, since we’re talking about adoption, may the church of Jesus Christ raise up a wonderful representation of God’s love to us in that, when we were orphaned by sin, He adopted us into His family through the grace of the Lord Jesus. And those families that can and are called to do it, then prayerfully consider it. And, by God’s grace, may our churches surround those who take on this adoptive and foster care ministry.

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

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

Leadership crucial in the church, life

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WHY IS TRUMP CHOOSING SO MANY MARINES FOR LEADERSHIP POSITIONS?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, today, I’d like to talk about leadership. I’d like to take you to a blog written by Chris Bollinger. Chris is a military air defense professional, retired Marine and he’s also a screenplay writer. He makes the point that Marines have a certain qualification that perhaps is unique with just Marines.

DR. REEDER: He brings this phenomenon — many of us have noted it — that this particular administration under President Trump has had a penchant to reach into the military for leadership to bring those leaders from military into the positions of civil leadership or governmental leadership.

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GOOD LEADERSHIP IS BIBLICAL — AND HARD TO FIND

Immediately, there’s concern, “Well, is that the military taking over?” I think it’s something else that’s happening and that’s this. We all know that leadership is crucial. If you look at the Word of God from a Christian world and life view, whenever God says to do something, He first raises up a leader. He frames the leader, forms the leader, develops the leader and then the leader is used. The leader is always imperfect and, almost always, the Lord surrounds him with another leader because of the plurality of leadership which is crucial in and of itself.

In the church, where there are elders — plural — if you see, we call them the elders, presbyters — plural — of the church because, with every man’s strength, you get his weaknesses, which it means you need a plurality of leaders.

But you need leadership and so here is our present president reaching into the military in general, but by the way into the Marine Corps very specifically, which is what this article highlights. You’ve got General Maddox who’s the Secretary of Defense, you’ve got General Dunford, the head of the joint chiefs of staff, you’ve got General Kelly who is the chief of staff in the White House and they’re all Marines.

And then you look at in society where someone recently did an article about how many corporations now look to the military where they try to find these junior officers that are retiring at 20 years of service and bring them into their corporation and groom them for leadership.

THE MILITARY, THE MARINES IN PARTICULAR, PRODUCE GREAT LEADERS

I think there’s a couple of reasons why. One is how the military in general and, by the way, the Marine Corps in particular… I remember the day I went down to fill out the papers to volunteer in February of 1969. I remember my dad’s stories of being in the Marine Corps.

Tom, there’s always been something about the Marine Corps experience, not only how they develop their Marines but also how they develop their leaders. I think it is also comparable in the other branches of the service, as well, which is why the military has become this fishing pool for leadership in our society.

Other places don’t develop leaders. I don’t look into the world of academics and I don’t find leaders there. In fact, I find very frightening people, recently, and you and I are thinking about doing a program on this. Alan Dershowitz, when the academic elite get together at Martha’s Vineyard, they won’t have him there because he had made an argument from the Constitution — which is what he is, a Constitutional lawyer, and he had made an argument that defended President Trump’s actions while making it clear he wasn’t defending President Trump but he was arguing about the Constitution. Well, now he’s not allowed because they just can’t handle that around him.

Anybody that can’t handle someone who makes a defense of the Constitution that I can’t answer tells me that person’s not much of a person. First, they can’t learn and, secondly, they can’t handle somebody that can persuade them or someone that instructs them.

IN A WORLD WHERE LEADERSHIP IS LACKING, EVEN THE MBA PROGRAMS LACK PRINCIPLES

Therefore, I don’t look to the academic world for leadership and I don’t look to the media for leadership so where do you look for leadership? Well, if you’ll go to the colleges, they have jettisoned ethics in the MBA programs. The corporate world doesn’t go to the place where they ought to be getting their corporate leaders from the MBA program because they’re not turning out leaders with any principles.

Where do they go? They go to the military.

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, is it safe to say the opposite end of a strong Biblical leader is someone who says, “I’m a victim”?

DR. REEDER: One of the things you’re looking for is, without arrogance or self-importance, you’re looking for someone who is not a victim in life but who knows how to lead others to victory in life. And I think that’s why we’re seeing this phenomenon is the military is the place where that’s happening and, the Marine Corps, they do some very pointed things. As this guy points out, you never see a Marine, when he goes into a hotel, having his bags carried by anybody — he carries his own bags and, by the way, he’ll carry the bags for other people. He also notes that they always eat last — they never eat first but they always eat last.

JESUS “TRAINED LEADERS” BY TEACHING THEM  SELFLESSNESS AND QUIET STRENGTH

Are there Biblical principles here that Jesus, in his leadership training, used when he told his disciples in regard to being first when they wanted to know, “Do we get the seat of honor?” he said, “Listen, if you want to be first, you’re last. If you want to be the leader of all, then you are the servant of all.”

By the way, here’s something else: who trains leaders in the Marine Corps? Go to Quantico and look at the sergeants training the future leaders. Tom, I even had an experience in that as I did a commissioning ceremony for a second lieutenant in our church and there with him was a gunny sergeant. And I took the liberty, even though I was there to give a Biblical perspective and to pray for his installation, I said, “If you don’t mind, just a little personal word here, I’m looking forward to how the Lord is going to use your leadership. And I’ll tell you, one of the first things the Lord would have me to tell you is you get fastened to that gunny sergeant over there and listen to him. He’s one of the most important people in your life.” And that’s what Marines do — they develop a relationship from their own training forward with enlisted men and the enlisted men are engaged in their training.

And the other thing is this: they are expected to learn that you don’t just learn from people who have ranks higher than you but you learn from people who have ranks lower than you. That’s part of what it means to be trained — you’re a learner and you learn 360 degrees.

THE NEW LEADERS MUST COME FROM THE CHURCH

However, I’ve got another proposal, Tom. It’s in my book, “Leadership Dynamic,” that’s being republished in October — “3D Leadership,” would be available — and that is simply this: the church should become a leadership factory, defining, developing and deploying leaders in every sphere of society. We would be the ones that people would look to — again, the John Newtons who would produce the William Wilberforces. The great Presbyterian pastor, Dr. Phineas Gurley and Dr. James Smith who influenced, and developed and led to Christ Abraham Lincoln.

There are so many examples of when the church has developed leaders for every sphere of society — the family, the government and the business — who operate from a Christian world and life view and bring Biblical principles to bear in all of life.

Tom, I think this article has highlighted something that’s very important. First, there will always be a need for leadership. Secondly, instinctively, society will start moving toward those institutions that produce leaders that benefit society. Third, the places where they go will be places where they teach leadership that is principled, ethically driven and that is other-concerned, not self-promoting and that shows a conduct in life that has courage married to humility, that has conviction married to compassion. That’s what we’re looking for is those two threads of strength and courage. Joshua says, “Be strong and courageous,” and the other thread, sensitivity and compassion.

TRAINING CHRISTIAN LEADERS MUST START WITH STUDYING OUR SAVIOR

Of course, the leader of all from my Christian world and life view is my Savior and I love the moment in the Book of Revelation when John is utterly in despair for there is no one who is worthy to open the seals of the book and then a voice from Heaven says, “Weep no more. There is one who is worthy.” And John looked and then he saw the lion of Judah standing as a lamb that was slain.

There’s our great king and there is the picture of leadership, lion-like in life and lamb-like in heart. There is the Lamb who had given Himself, yet He’s standing, strong and courageous, the victor over sin, death, Hell and the grave. And He can make you a victor and He can make you a leader in your home, in your marriage, in your church and in society but first fix your eyes on Him. See Him and His leadership as He goes to the cross, counting it all joy to lay down His life that we might have victory and lay down his life in victory as He comes forth from the grave — victorious, our great Savior and Lord. Come to Him and watch what He does to make you like Him.

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

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

 

How Christians should submit to the government’s law

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JEFF SESSIONS CITES ROMANS, CALLING BELIEVERS TO OBEY GOVERNMENT — DOES HE HAVE A POINT?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, recently, Jeff Sessions was asked to come and address the Southern Baptist Convention. When he did, he quoted the apostle Paul, Roman 13:1-7, which overall instructs Christians to submit to the government. This really opened up Pandora’s box with critics of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions saying that is the same scripture that certain individuals used to justify things like the Nazi regime.

Harry, let me ask you a question: if you were living back in the 1700’s during the American Revolution, no doubt, there were probably times where you had certain people saying that those living in this new country of America — which was still under the king’s rule — should be submitting to the king of England and not engaging in a revolution.

DR. REEDER: We just celebrated our July the Fourth holidays. Were the Christians who participated in the Revolution — the Christian patriots — were they sinning against God? And, by the way, many of the Tories were actually believers in America that quoted this and said, “We can’t rebel against the king.”

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PAUL AND PETER AGREE ON THIS POINT IN MIRRORED WRITINGS

Peter, almost verbatim, says the same thing when he’s writing in 1 Peter 2:13-17. In fact, he even goes on to say that we are to be subject to every human institution and to those in authority, as Paul does, and to those who are ruling over us, for the governing authorities are established over us by a sovereign God and they are there, called to be ministers of God.

One of the things that is being stated in this is that government is an act of God post-fall that has been given as a blessing of common grace to punish evil, restrain evil and to promote what is good and that is the role of the government. The government is not the church and, by the way, the church is not the government. The government has an intersection with the church and the church speaks to the government and its members participate in the government.

THE GOVERNMENT IS GOD-GIVEN TO KEEP ORDER AFTER THE FALL OF MAN

And how is it that Christians live their lives? Well, we who have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of life, we who are sojourners and exiles as we fulfill our mission to be ambassadors for Christ, we see ourselves answering to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, but that does not promote anarchy in our life — that promotes order in our life and that our call is to be in subjection to every human institution.

Are there exceptions? Absolutely, but don’t start with the qualifiers; start with the principle. The principle is, before I was a Christian, it’s all about me and I do what I want for myself. Now that I’m a Christian, it’s all about Jesus and I do what He wants and He tells me. The direction of my life is to be submissive. Churches are submissive to one another, Christians are submissive to one another, members are submissive to elders, I’m submissive to my employer, I’m submissive to the civil magistrate — that is the direction that we are called to live.

THERE ARE CASES WHERE LAWS ARE NOT JUST

Are there qualifiers? Absolutely. Notice the text does not say that every law is just or that every governing authority is just but it simply says that it’s there by God’s sovereign appointment. My initial response is to be in submission.

Are there times in the Bible that my submission is to be forfeited because of the government’s law — the law itself? When they told John and Peter they couldn’t preach in the name of Jesus, well, now we got a conflict. King Jesus says go and preach the Gospel and they just passed a law on me that I can’t preach the Gospel. And so, what did they say? “We must obey God rather than man.” Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow down to the king’s image and commit idolatry, but they were still submissive — they willingly took their punishment.

THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR HAD BELIEVERS UNITED UNDER THEIR LOCAL GOVERNMENT, NOT INDIVIDUAL CHAOS

Concerning the Revolution, you’ll notice it was not a collection of guerilla and it was not an act of vigilantism. They established a government in America which they were submissive to, which then informed the government that was exercising tyranny against them that this government in America would not submit to that government. In other words, the Christians were obedient to the governing authority in America which declared to the tyrannical government that was attempting to coerce and control through the mechanism of taxation without representation that they would not do it.

Therefore, it was not an act of individual revolution; they were submissive to the government that had been established in the colonies that then said to the government that would control them, “We no longer will allow you to oppress and take away people’s God-given inalienable rights.”

The same thing would be true in a Nazi Germany. Yes, did Hitler quote this text to try to control Christians? Yes, but Christians could say, “Yes, we will be in submission to the government but, when you exercise your laws, if your laws cause us to transgress the law of God, then we must obey God rather than man.”

IN NAZI GERMANY, THE LAWS WERE UNJUST AND THIS VERSE WOULD NOT HAVE APPLIED

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I remember in the book “The Hiding Place,” Corrie Ten Boom wrote where she was challenged by a Nazi officer quoting this verse saying you are to obey the governing authorities. In that kind of situation, would it be proper for a Christian like Corrie Ten Boom to perhaps take an officer like that to Colossians 4 where it says, “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you, too, have a Master in Heaven whom you have to answer.”

DR. REEDER: That’s moving from the civil government to the civil relationships in society but the principle would be the same. What I would say is go back to the Romans 13, “You’re a minister of God,” God called you to imprison people just because they are made in the image of God and reside in a certain ethnicity?

For Corrie Ten Boom, when they come and said, “Do you have any Jews in your house?” is it okay for her to say no? Absolutely it was okay because the whole question was, “Do you have Jews in your house that we can imprison and exterminate?” and that answer is no. She also realizes that here is a law that stands against the law of God, “You shalt not murder.”

WE MAY BE CALLED TO CIVILLY DISOBEY AND SUFFER CONSEQUENCES IN OUR WORLD TODAY

At the moment, my country is guilty of allowing the murder of unborn infants. If they ever get to the point that they tell me, “You have to pay for it. You have to participate in it directly,” then I tell them, “No, I will not,” and I’ll have to be ready to take the punishment for it. In fact, I am called of God not to obey an unjust law. I actually have a moral duty before God to disobey that law in the context of being submissive to governing authorities.

When Sessions quotes that text, that text is rightly quoted but its right application always realizes that, if that governing authority has an unjust law, then Christians, in submission to that authority, are under obligation to the Lord, the Giver of the supremacy of the Ten Commandments and the Law of God that we cannot disobey the commandments of God within a nation. Yet we don’t do that in terms of personal rebellion; we do that under authority and, ultimately, under the authority of Christ, Who is our King, in which our citizenship ultimately lies.

WE HAVE BEEN LEFT A LEGACY OF OBEDIENT CHRISTIANS TO FOLLOW

When Peter wrote his text that’s parallel to Paul’s text, it’s interesting that he also adds directly, “Honor the king,” and the king at that time is a lascivious, immoral, ungodly, unconscionably evil person, Nero, who in just a few years is going to kill the man that’s writing this “Honor the king and honor the emperor,” Peter, and will also decree the death of Paul who also said the governing authorities are to be obeyed and who, in their submission, went to death for King Jesus because of their faithfulness to the call of Christ to spread the Gospel of His Kingdom throughout the world. Of course, history is full of those who have followed their steps of martyrdom.

The rule of believers is you move from the rule of self and the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ and now the rule of Christ in our life and it’s manifested in our submission to God-ordained authorities, always declaring the supremacy of our obedience to Christ. If those rulers take upon themselves the authority to tell us to disobey Christ, then we must obey God rather than man.

COMING UP TOMORROW: LEADERSHIP BLOOMING IN ARMED FORCES

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on tomorrow’s edition of “Today in Perspective,” I want to take you to a blog by Chris Bollinger. In this blog, he notes that there are certain members of a certain branch of our military who share a unique quality.

DR. REEDER: And are being called upon in a disproportionate measure for leadership in our country and there may be a reason why this is happening that we can explore tomorrow.

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

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

 

Reflecting on Independence Day and its meaning

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APPRECIATING OUR INDEPENDENCE AND ITS AUTHORS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, today is Independence Day, Fourth of July. It is our nation’s 242nd birthday. Harry, the providence of God established this great nation and, obviously, the providence of God will take us forward. Give us your thoughts on our beginnings and where do we go from here.

DR. REEDER: One of the reasons that this country celebrates July the Fourth was the exhortation of the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, who said every year the country ought to celebrate its birthdays with fireworks, and celebrations, and parades, etc. Interestingly, he was also supported by then-his colleague and friend, John Adams, but they would later, out of John Adams’ term as president, begin a little bit on the opposite sides of the fence in terms of the proper role of the executive branch — Thomas Jefferson ran against John Adams and defeated him in a very close race.

The one who wrote the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, the one who encouraged him to write it and was his supporter in the writing of it, John Adams, were friends and then became political opponents but always kept a concern for each other. Interestingly, both died on July the Fourth in the same year and both of them, in their dying words, asked about the other.

GOD HAS GUIDED THIS “AMERICAN EXPERIMENT”

Also, when I think about July the Fourth, I think of the providence of God that gave birth to this nation and the providence of God that has maintained and matured this nation. This has been called, rightly, “The American Experiment”. I’d like to recommend a book to our listeners today, Tom, and that is the book “Indivisible” by Os Guinness — I think they would find that extremely insightful — and, in that book, he identifies a number of things, what I believe are the three profound movements that have affected this nation.

First is the Great Awakening from 1735 to 1765, which drastically affected the Christian world and life view and its dominant impact throughout our country, not that everyone was a Christian by any means. The world and life view that was guiding the country was clearly a Biblical world and life view, which led to the Biblical understanding that the best rule of a people is law, not another person.

With a republic — that is, a law in which people elect their representatives who take oaths to a Constitution, a law, and their job is to apply the law — you now have a king that is the law. That’s exactly the book that had the great impact, the book of Samuel Rutherford to Lex Rex and that is “the law is king.” We are quite the experiment that the law could be king in a democratic process of electing our representatives and, while they represent people and care for the people, their oath of allegiance is to the Constitution.

Secondly, that world and life view was then buttressed by the Second Great Awakening from 1785 that lasted until about 1880 with numerous revivals throughout our country in regions and nationally and that not only maintained our view of liberty that is bounded within law — law is what keeps liberty from becoming anarchy — but that you apply law and the purpose of law is to protect liberty and the inalienable rights that God has given to man and the government doesn’t grant those rights but protects them and the maturing of that so that, eventually, the stupidity of enslaving people and not protecting their rights, as was done to the Africans that were brought to this country, that was eventually abolished and then the protecting of their rights and their attempt to control them with Jim Crow laws, that was eventually abolished. And I think it is actually the First Amendment of free speech and the free practice of religion that not only maintained the freedoms of this American Experiment and its government structure through multiple crisis, but also matured them.

And then the third great movement was the affirmation of the Bill of Rights which protects all of those liberties.

APPRECIATING THE WISE LEADERSHIP OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, FIRST PRESIDENT

Then I would say there were three times that the founder of this country, as you celebrate July the Fourth — you might remember George Washington — the three “no’s” of George Washington — that is N-O’S. First, the pastor who had prayed for the Continental Congress in his prayer regularly was a glorious prayer, after Philadelphia was conquered, was persuaded to write a letter to George Washington at Valley Forge encouraging him to surrender and George Washington said no. And then when George Washington has the opportunity, because of chaos in the nation, to not be a president but to be a dictator and to be a “king” and he said no. The way he said no humbled those who were trying to force him to say yes. And then, thirdly, when he refused a third term in office but said no to the third term and brought forth not a legislative but a president establishing to limited terms to the office that now stands as a law but, back then, he set the precedent. Those three no’s of George Washington, I think, ought to be celebrated.

THE WISDOM OF THREE BRANCHES STILL SUSTAINS US TODAY

And then, finally, Tom, I think we ought to celebrate the ingenious of the Constitutional infrastructure that has been established where the law is executed by an executive office, as we noted in yesterday’s program, it is applied by the judiciary, and then laws are made and amended by a legislature. And all three branches are populated through an approval process of either elections or appointments by those who have been elected.

You have that replicated at three levels — the local level, the state level and the national level — and the Constitutional clearly declares that the power does not start at the national level and is granted to the state level and, from the state to the local, but it is in the other direction, the Bill of Rights affirms the rights of the states and the powers of the federal government are only those that have been granted by the state.

OUR LORD STILL SUSTAINS US — DARE WE ASK FOR ANOTHER REVIVAL OF FAITH IN OUR NATION?

I find that very ingenious but, most of all, I’m grateful that, this July the Fourth that God has extended His providence in that there has been the blessing of God with these Gospel awakenings and I am praying for a third Gospel awakening — I’m laboring for it and I’m praying for it so that we see the transforming grace of God and the country is made from the ground up through changed lives as the Lord Jesus saves us not only from sin’s guilt and shame and brings us from a destiny of eternal destruction and Hell to the glorious blessing of eternal life. I pray that for everyone that’s listening. And if you’ve never made that commitment to Jesus Christ, that would be the greatest liberty that you could celebrate this July the Fourth.

And, in the meantime, I also want to labor for God’s common grace, that he would restrain our society from the inevitable demise that we see in every culture. There’s two tipping points that I try to share from a Christian world and life view. One is that every movement at the 40 to 80-year mark almost always begins to descend downward as it loses its moorings from its origination. You see that in the Book of Judges, the nation of Israel was in desperate need of a judge that would lead them back to godliness and righteousness and wisdom and a revival.

OUR NATION IS AN EXPERIMENTAL SUCCESS STORY OUTLASTING OTHERS; PLEASE, LORD, GRANT US MORE

However, you also see in the affairs of nations that most nations only last 150 to 250 years. Their death from the outside was preceded from their death from the inside. The death from the inside was not some major apostasy — it was simply the death of 1,000 cuts as the moral center and gravitas of the nation is lost. I believe the gravitas of this nation has been the imperfect but steady of influence of the Evangelical church for Jesus Christ.

I am a patriot. I love the Gospel to go to all the nations, but I do, like the Reformers, pray for the Gospel to go to my own nation. Calvin sent 1,300 missionaries to France and the French Huguenot church was born. Knox said, “Give me Scotland or I die.” Latimer and Ridley, as they were dying in the flames at Oxford said, “We’re lighting a candle for Christ that shall not be put out in all of England.”

I pray for the same thing in my own country. He has placed me in a nation and I, with the Psalmist, this July the Fourth say, “Praise God, the lines of life have fallen to me in a goodly place,” but I pray that God would grant this place repentance and we would see this de-evolution of society reversed through the power of the Gospel. As men and women are changed from the inside out, God would raise this nation from the inside out and we would again say, “Let freedom roll and let justice come down like waters.”

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

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

 

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Justice Kennedy’s retirement and what it could mean for the direction of the country

(YHN/Pixabay)

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NEWS OF JUSTICE KENNEDY’S RETIREMENT: WHAT IT MEANS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last week, big news broke on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he’d be retiring July 31st, 2018. Harry, as many people will review the career of Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court, he no doubt is going to have mixed reviews. Your thoughts?

DR. REEDER: Justice Kennedy was a Ronald Reagan appointee. Some people may be old enough to remember that it was quite an ordeal in that, I think, one of the most brilliant that has ever existed with an impeccable track record, Judge Bork, was nominated. He was more or less a mentor to Justice Scalia, who died recently, on this matter of what is originalism or what we also call strict interpretation based upon the Constitution as it was written in its context and apply it to today’s context.

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Senators Kennedy, Biden and others undertook a campaign to destroy Judge Bork, which succeeded in removing him. The next nominee that was put forward, Justice Ginsburg, it had been uncovered his practice of smoking marijuana as a law student and later on as a law professor. He withdrew.

ALTHOUGH ELECTED A CONSERVATIVE, KENNEDY’S SUPPORT OF SEXUAL REVOLUTION LED TO DANGER IN FAMILY ISSUES AND FIRST AMENDMENT

And then came Ronald Reagan’s third nominee, which was Justice Kennedy. Because he came under Reagan and because of his past record, he was considered to be a relatively reliable conservative justice but he has, over the period, made it very clear he is no Scalia, he is no Justice Bork, he is not an originalist in that sense.

Having said that, he is almost always reliable on the First Amendment issues. However, he has been a proponent of the sexual revolution as he has not upheld the sanctity of marriage, and its historic definition, in his leadership and opinion on the Obergefell case. He has a new civil right tied to the sexual revolution in terms of the striking down of all the sodomy laws, not only the affirmation of same-sex marriage but also the removal of all historic ethic that placed sexuality within the context of marriage.

Interestingly, he, himself, in his opinions realized that he had put in danger the free practice of religion because all major religions observe the fact that sexuality belongs in marriage and marriage is one man and one woman and he can see the collision. Tom, because of the profile I’ve laid out and sketched out, he has become known as “the swing vote” — which way is he going to go in most cases?

Well, with his retirement — he’s 81 years of age — President Trump has a second opportunity to place a justice on the Supreme Court and he has already said that he will pick from that list that he announced during his candidacy.

His stated commitment to appoint Constitutionalists and the publishing of that list of 25, I think may have won him the election because most Evangelicals would have had a very difficult time voting for him otherwise. Many who had issues with President Trump from a number of vantage points, I think, went to the poll and pulled the lever almost exclusively on this Supreme Court issue. And, if I may say, politically, it seems to have borne out. Gorsuch, by all accounts, has manifested not only judicial consistency as an originalist, but also has manifested a certain amount of brilliance in the public statements that he has made in the various cases.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MIDTERMS?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, you mention many conservative evangelicals who went to the poll in the last presidential election and voted for Trump for the Supreme Court decision alone — will that have carryover to these midterms?

DR. REEDER: There are two thoughts. One is while you are assured of having the votes to get through the nominee, go ahead and get it before the election and get it done before November. The other one is, well, no, hold this back and then use this to stoke the base of the conservatives — the evangelicals, the constitutionalists — to make sure that the president does have a majority in the Senate in order to get this nominee through.

There’s a third thought and the third thought is go ahead and get it done while you can get it done and then the fact that you could get it done, you make that the point of the next election that there is likely going to be at least one, possibly two more Supreme Court appointments with Stephen Breyer’s age at 79 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s age at 85. The fact that you’re able to get it through becomes the rallying point — you need to help us maintain that — so I think, politically, that’s what they’re working through.

Through a Christian and world and life view, I’m grateful for the turn that Justice Kennedy has made in the last three decisions and upholding First Amendment issues, particularly the free practice of religion, then I think it’s very important that the Supreme Court should be comprised of originalists — that is, those who see their job not to make law from a “living Constitution,” but to interpret the law from its context and apply it to today’s cases and that we maintain that genius of the American experiment. In fact, I want to talk about that some tomorrow as we focus our program upon the July the Fourth celebration and its ingenious dynamic of the three branches of government.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP OUR GOVERNMENT TRUE TO PURPOSE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, this is a significant decision. As we have seen with the previous justices that were put on the Supreme Court, it affects the direction, the morality and the conscience of the nation for decades to come.

DR. REEDER: Yes, it certainly does and so, as a believer, I believe that the American experiment that this would be a country governed by law not only necessitates a branch for lawmakers — that is, the legislators, the Congress — and also a branch for the execution of the law — that is, the presidency — but we desperately need competent and qualified justices who understand the role of the judiciary — not to become the executive branch, not to become the legislative branch, but to truly be the judiciary to make judgements based upon the law.

One of the great blessings for a nation is to have a justice that is “blind” in the sense that it doesn’t matter who is before the court, that they will get a fair interpretation of the law — it’s not just the rich, it’s not just the powerful, but all who stand before the law get the appropriate judgements of the law. And the opinions of the Supreme Court obviously set the precedents for the rest of the courts — the appeals court, the district court and the local courts.

What I would say, Tom, is that I, of course, am going to pray for this appointment, that it will be a good one. I’m not sure what they’ll do politically — I’ll leave that to the political pundits and the strategists — but I will pray that there will be an excellent appointee and I pray that that one, in their development after in office, will be consistent as an originalist and a strict constructionist of the Constitution and its proper application and will have wisdom from above.

PRAYERS FOR A JUST AND WISE COURT THAT PLEASES GOD

I love the prayer that used to accompany every single court. It’s interesting, Tom, recently, there was a lower court decision that went to the Supreme Court that the Supreme Court did not address concerning prayer for a commission meeting in Rowan County, North Carolina. That’ll probably come back to the Supreme Court.

However, beyond commission meetings, we almost always used to begin the session of a court with a prayer: “God, save this court.” And what the prayer meant was God, keep the court faithful and effective in bringing forth cases, process and judgements that are not only manifest with wisdom — perhaps even the wisdom of Solomon as he would sit in cases — but, beyond that, would also let justice roll down like rivers so that the citizens of this country all have the equal protection of the inalienable rights have been God-given and the courts would preserve that.

This is going to be a very important appointment and I am certainly in prayer that it would result in a justice that understands the role of a judge and will do so with wisdom and who will relish justice even in the midst of mercy. And dare I pray that the Lord would grant us a judge who would walk humbly with God — in other words, an echo of the words of the prophet: “And what does the Lord require of you, O man, but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

COMING UP TOMORROW: CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE DAY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, as you mentioned earlier, tomorrow is Independence Day, our Fourth of July. It is our nation’s 242nd birthday. We’ll celebrate our nation’s independence on Wednesday’s edition of “Today in Perspective.”

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

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

 

How the church and strong families can help adolescents deal with depression

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EPIDEMIC OF ADOLESCENT DEPRESSION DRAWS UPDATED GUIDELINES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, NPR recently ran a story with the headline “Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood.” The story goes on to say as many as 2 in 3 depressed teens don’t get the care that could help them.

Dr. Rachel Zuckerbrot, a board certified adolescent psychiatrist and associate professor at Columbia University, along with the American Academy of Pediatricians, has issued updated guidelines that calls for universal screening for depression in teens.

DR. REEDER: Tom, it’s really interesting how this “disciplined and science” of psychology carves out its space pretty profoundly but I do believe they have their finger on an issue and that issue is the rising evidence and the rising incidence of depression.

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WHAT DOES CHRISTIANITY SAY ABOUT DEPRESSION?

From a Christian world and life view, I’d like to draw a distinction. I believe that this three-fold view of humanity that you are spiritual, physical, and psychological, that does not stand the scrutiny of Scripture.

The Bible teaches that man is made up of two parts, male and female, are physical and spiritual. Now, they are entwined with each other and the physical affects the spiritual and the spiritual affects the physical so there are some physical causes of what we would call depression: loss of hope, loss of any joy, any happiness, a pessimistic view of life that has eventually led some people, obviously, to the taking of their life. It’s heartbreaking for all of us when we see that and then when we see people in the throes of depression.

PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS CAN SUFFER ILLNESS

I believe it’s caused physically because we’re fallen human beings, physical dynamics, where the body is not functioning right. There’s certain chemical things that are going on like synapses misfires and all of that that’s taking place can lead to depression and those should be treated medically — very carefully, now, because there have been a number of cases of suicide when people are not properly cared for when they’re medically treated for physical causes of depression.

And then, of course, is the spiritual dynamic. The Psalmist speaks of this a number of times: “My soul, why art thou disquieted? Why are you cast down?” We find it in the very first incident of the Bible where God gives the diagnosis of depression: “Cain, why is your face cast down?” We find it in Nebuchadnezzar, whose arrogance had led him into the field to live with his face down like an animal and there is a spiritual dynamic that can lead to depression. And then, sometimes, obviously, there can be the two at work within each other.

BUT WHY THE UPTICK IN INSTANCES AMONG TEENS?

Now, we want to ask ourselves a question at the moment, though, is why is there such a plethora? Why is there almost an epidemic of this depression? Now you are putting children under a mandate to be screened by people of various levels of competencies in which parental rights can be set aside by the “profession” of psychology and its screening process.

Now, having said that, is there an almost epidemic of depression among the rising generation? And I think the answer is yes. We need to ask ourselves, “What are the causes of it?” Tom, I think it’s very clear, as a pastor, I am running into ministry counseling issues of depression among young people much more than I ever had 20 years ago. I look back at my own childhood and I don’t ever remember anything like this — I’m sure there was to some degree, but nothing like this.

NEW CULTURE WITHOUT GOD, WEAK CHURCHES, AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Why is it? Well, I think we need to take a look at the environment in which our children are being raised. The secularization of our culture, the message of a God-centered life which brings hope in the God and Glory and grace is now diminished and set aside by the pressures of the culture and the cultural elite, the curtailing of the First Amendment, both in terms of freedom of speech and the free practice of religion — so that whole element of the dynamic of hope that comes through a vibrant Christianity is lost.

Secondly, within the church, we have lost our focus upon the Gospel which gives hope that we use to pour forth into the culture and then, when we’ve got hope pouring forth from an institution like the church of Jesus Christ and the people of God, that’s going to make a difference and we ought to be bringing that message. Somehow, we have gotten sidetracked into other messages and causes other than the cause of getting up on the mountain and announcing good news.

A third thing, I think, is social media, where kids, their whole life is determined by how many likes they have and things that people can say through social media without being face to face with an individual.

CHURCHES MUST SPREAD SPIRITUAL HOPE

Do I believe that there are some physical reasons for depression that can be treated? Yes, but I think the vast majority is a spiritual depression that is coming from a society that has vacuumed out of its existence the message of hope in Jesus Christ. It does not want to hear the bad news that we’re sinners. Therefore, it does not want to hear the good news that you can be saved from your sins.

Now, the question is will the church of Jesus Christ tackle this or not and I believe the Bible calls us to keep up our message and step up our game into the world with the message of hope for the sake of young people who need to hear the hope of the Gospel.

DO NOT DEPEND ON GOVERNMENT TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT

Dare I say one more thing, Tom, about that? If there is an epidemic of depression — and I actually believe there is — I don’t think the answer is to create a cast of individuals that the government forces you to go to to get their approval and then to be given medication upon their decision or not. I do think parents ought to be educated on what do you look out for in terms of depression, but I think what we really need is a vibrant, healthy church of Jesus Christ that is on-mission with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

CHURCHES: SEE THE NEED AND SPREAD THE MESSAGE OF HOPE, ESPECIALLY IN OWN FAMILIES

And, boy, you’re talking about a rich harvest field in a culture that’s in despair because of its secularization. That is a rich harvest field for us to come and say, “Listen, there is no hope there and you see where it’s headed but, over here, let me tell you where there’s hope,” and then for the church of Jesus Christ to redouble its efforts to bring the power of the Gospel to bear upon relationships so that kids see their hope in true friendships and true fellowships that are permeated with the hope of Christ, and that they see their hope that they are ambassadors of Christ that are sent into the world for Christ and they have a glorious mission and a glorious message to take.

There is much reason for hope: you are someone that Jesus Christ has died for, you are someone that the Spirit of God dwells within, you are someone that has a task and a mission and a message that counts for all eternity and what you do matters for all eternity. There is the hope of a vital relationship with God that gives you meaningful relationships and responsibilities in life.

FAMILY LIFE IS KEY — STRONG MARRIAGE AND CHURCHES RAISE UP CHILDREN WITH HOPE

And then for us to disciple families in which, once again, children are raised not in the hopelessness of broken homes, not in the fear that the home is going to break up, not in the violence that is now invading homes and abusiveness, not in the despair of the sexual revolution that destroys bodies and hopes and lives and dreams, but in the hope of Jesus Christ.

And we see that in stronger marriages, we see that in stronger families, we see that in stronger churches that get back to what they’re supposed to be doing, which is evangelizing and discipling and worshiping in the community of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ in which you reach out to people by bringing to them the hope of the Gospel and bringing them into relationships that are meaningful so they get a taste of what it means to be loved in Christ and what it means to be loved by the power of the Gospel of grace.

I think that’s the great hope. The hope is not in the creation of a new cast of professionals. Unlike what the secular culture says, you do have a soul, and unlike what the secular culture says, you do have hope, and that hope is blessed — the blessed hope Christ the Lord of Glory.

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.

What the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly prayer gets wrong

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PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF THE USA BRINGS IN PRAYER TO PRAISE AND VALIDATE NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, the denomination that you’re a part of, the Presbyterian Church in America, recently had their assembly in Atlanta, Georgia. The Presbyterian Church USA also conducted their general assembly. At the 222nd General Assembly in 2016, a Muslim was invited to invoke an Islamic prayer at the opening of that general assembly.

Well, that didn’t happen this year at the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA — however, there was a prayer and everyone was asked to participate in reciting in this prayer: “We praise you for the gift of faith we have received in Jesus Christ. We praise you also for diverse faith among the peoples of the earth. You have bestowed your grace to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, practitioners of traditional religions and others may celebrate your goodness, act upon your truth and demonstrate your righteousness. In wonder and awe, we praise you, great God.”

Matine Elise writes, “Reading this prayer carefully, one discovers that faith in Jesus Christ is just one of many diverse faiths on earth, all of which are good. God’s gift of grace is not linked uniquely to the work of Christ opening up salvation for all the world, but rather only one way of coming to God.”

DR. REEDER: Let’s take this prayer on from a Christian world and life view. At the core of any Christian world and life view is the Gospel claim that man is wrong with God because of his sin and that God has made a way for man to be right with Him and that way is His Son, Jesus, Who is the way, the truth and the life. And the Christian message is we want to communicate to you the love of God in Christ is that, through the death and resurrection of Christ, you can be right with God when Jesus Christ alone is your Savior because only Christ can save.

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THE CHRISTIAN TRUTH CAN REPEL NON-BELIEVERS BECAUSE OF THESE THREE THINGS

Now, let me go ahead and acknowledge upfront that there are three things that causes the Gospel to be an offense to everyone who hears it unless the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives giving them eyes to see and ears to hear.

What are those three things? First is the declaration that we are sinners and we need a savior. Second is that you can’t save yourself, nor can your manmade religion save you. Third, Jesus alone can save you. You need a savior, your religion can’t save you and Christ exclusively is the only one Who can save you. That is, as Peter says, a stone of stumbling — a rock of offense — to any and all who hear that unless the Lord works in their life and then that rock of offense becomes the rock of their salvation.

What does this particular prayer say? Well, it starts off pretty good, actually. “We praise you for the gift of faith we have received in Jesus Christ.” So, first, the opening statement, this is really amazing how, in the space of two sentences, you can go from the heights of confessional orthodoxy that exalts the glory and grace of God to the depths of manmade deception and rebellion against God — you can do it in two connected sentences.

BREAKING DOWN THE STATEMENT — WHAT DOES IT GET RIGHT AND WRONG?

The first sentence, “We praise you,” is worship to God. For what? The gift of faith. That’s accurate. The Bible says, “For by grace are you saved. Through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” so that’s correct. “Through the gift of faith, we have received,” — so faith isn’t something we work up but faith is something that God works in us that we receive from God the ability to believe

And then it says, “In Jesus Christ.” Therefore, what is the right object of saving faith that we receive from God? Jesus Christ. That’s a glorious statement. Then the next statement, “We also praise you,” — for what — “diverse faith among the peoples of the earth. So, among all of the nations, we want to praise you for the diverse faiths. And then a third sentence is given on what are these diverse faiths? Oh, these are the evidences of your grace — “You have bestowed grace that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, practitioners of traditional religions may celebrate your goodness, act upon your truth and demonstrate your righteousness.” “So, in wonder and awe, we praise you, O great God.” That was on Page 113 of their program book that they all participated in.

THERE IS THE RIGHT TO RELIGION, BUT NOT ALL RELIGIONS ARE RIGHT

Now, let’s be very clear: do people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe? Absolutely. Does God, because of common grace, have elements of truth in many religions and “isms” out there? Absolutely. For instance, I can name all the main traditional religions that all affirm monogamous, heterosexual, covenantal marriage — at least up until now. Praise the Lord for that blessing of common grace. Though the religion is wrong in terms of how a man can be right with God, it does have some right things in it from which we can have conversations.

However, do we praise God for those religions as evidences of His grace? The answer is no. How can I praise God for a manmade religion that deceives people into false assurance that they can be right with God apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross? I cannot praise God for that and I will not call religions as a gift of grace — on the contrary, they’re counterfeits to the work of grace.

Will they, by God’s common grace, have elements of truth? Absolutely. But are they, of essence, a statement of God’s grace? No, on the contrary, they are manmade religions and they all tell you not the grace that you need but all tell you what men and women can do to earn salvation. Therefore, I don’t see those as something to celebrate in worship but I see those as something to deal with in evangelism and apologetics — that is, the defense of the Gospel.

Therefore, we don’t celebrate God’s goodness by the presence of false religions. I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it — only it — is the power of God unto salvation. For everyone who believes — for the Jew and to the Gentile — for, in it, that Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. It’s not revealed in other religions. It is revealed in Christ.

THIS PRAYER BROUGHT NO OPPOSITION?

Now, the amazing thing, Tom, is that this was written, it was vetted and it was included in the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America and this very statement that we just went through stands in opposition to the confession that they say that they believe, the Westminster Confession of Faith — it stands in opposition to it.

As Mr. Elise says, are we making too big of deal of this? First, your leadership put this prayer that celebrates the deceptiveness of the religions of the world by the wording of the prayer and giving praise to God for manmade religions as statements of God’s goodness and righteousness while they lead people with a false assurance of life and they lead people into the pit of hell apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ.

God’s only Son gave His life on the cross and rose from the dead so there is only one way and that is the Christ Who provided that atoning death. And the biggest decision you’re ever going to make in your life is will you stumble over Christ as the rock of salvation or will He become the rock of your salvation?

It is also amazing that no one brought a protest to that prayer. No one who was there, called upon to participate in it, raised a protest in it. And, by the way, that astounds me that there was no protest because I do know some solid pastors that love Jesus and are faithful to His Word within that denomination and some churches but what I long for is a great movement of the Gospel of grace throughout our nation and in the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America as well.

STAND UP FOR CHRIST AND HIS ATONEMENT TO SHARE THAT SALVATION WITH OTHERS

Whenever we see such statements that eviscerate the claim of Christ — that “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man can come to the Father but through me,” — and celebrate manmade religions designed to rebel against God’s grace, designed to deceive men and women from grace and to celebrate those in the context of a worship service is utterly astounding.

It breaks my heart — grieves my heart — because of the false assurance it gives to men and women standing on the edge of eternity. Would you hear me tell you there is the big decision that you will make: either Jesus was a liar, He was a fool, He was insane or He was the Lord. And, if He’s the Lord, then you got to hear what He says: “No man can come to the father but through me.”

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

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

Is it just? Farm Bill requires able-bodied on food stamps to work part-time or get job-training

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NEW FARM BILL REQUIRES WORK FOR FOOD ASSISTANCE: IS IT JUST?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a new farm bill. Now, a lot of people don’t realize it, but the farm bill also includes food stamps or, known by its new name, the SNAP Program.

In the latest version of the bill, passed by the narrowest of margins — 213 to 211 — all Democrats opposed the bill and the reason why, Harry, is many say they oppose it is because there are new work requirements in this bill. The measure requires participants to work 20 hours per week or enroll in job training if they’re going to pick up what was traditionally known as food stamps. Now, there are exceptions for this for those that are disabled, for youth and other exemptions that would allow some people to get around these requirements.

Harry, my question for you is this: what is the Biblical approach to assistance, what is the Biblical approach to work and how do these two come together?

DR. REEDER: Tom, given the fact that they had the appropriate exemptions — if someone is disabled, unable to work or underage to work and is in need of the assistance — given those exemptions, the fact that you have a bill that is encouraging people to go to work at least 20 hours, part-time, or to be enrolled in a job training or job search process, I find that extraordinarily appropriate and good governing. It astounds me that almost one-half of the Congress would vote against that.

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There must be something I am not seeing, but we’ve gone over this bill and the exemptions are there to take care of those who are incapable of work and the fact that you are trying to get people engaged in the workforce is a positive because work is not punishment and work is not something to avoid, but work is something to embrace.

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING FOR YOURSELF IS LONG-KNOWN

I remember the comments — I won’t name who, but three personages out of the Civil War — and one of the critiques of slavery that all three of these leaders had was that it was built upon the false assumption that happiness is found in oppressing and forcing and impressing other people to do work for you.

You say, well, what about hiring people? Yeah, you hire people to create work — you don’t hire people to do work for you, but you hire people to create work for them but you’re still supposed to be working. That’s why you can hire somebody because you can now pay them.

WORK WAS GIVEN BY GOD BUT THWARTED BY SIN

All of this is predicated upon the fact that work is not a part of the curse and work is not something to avoid, but work was built right into the creation week when Adam and Eve were made and God gave them what we call a “creation mandate” to subdue the earth — that’s work — rule over the creatures and the creation — stewardship of God’s creation, the home he made for us, that’s work — and then, of course, to be fruitful and multiply and that’ll lead to work when you start raising children. Work is good.

Now, the curse of sin brought frustration, sweat, thorns, briars and complexity, and consequences of the curse of sin upon work but work is not a curse. There is the curse of sinful consequences within work, but it is not work that is the curse. That’s something good. It contributes to self-respect, it contributes to creation of wealth, it contributes for others as it creates jobs for other people when you do a job and you do it rightly. It also contributes not only to your self-respect to your self-engagement and appropriate view of self-esteem that you’re made in the image of God and not only can you work, but you can work with purpose.

WORK CAN (AND SHOULD) BE WORSHIP

And then, ultimately, with the Gospel, we can teach people to do work as worship. You know, work as worship gave rise to a statement in our society called “professional.” What does the word professional mean in its origins out of the Reformation? Well, here was the notion that Calvin, Luther, Knox and others said this: all work is sacred if it is worthwhile work and done worthwhile. And work is a subset of worship — an instrument of worship. Do your work heartily unto the Lord. Therefore, the way you work becomes a profession of your faith so do it with excellence.

“Oh, that guy’s a professional,” meaning he does it with excellence. And when you say to someone, “He’s a professional. He does it with excellence,” that was a compliment out of the Reformation meaning his work honored the Lord and it was an act of worship. “Whether you eat, drink or whatsoever you do, you do them to the glory of God to honor him.” That is something that is of excellence.

Therefore, the bill, I applaud its promotion of work. I also applaud the fact that we have a mechanism of mercy for those who can’t work or those who are in the process of finding work and are demonstrating that process.

IN ANCIENT ISRAEL, A SIMILAR SYSTEM WAS IN PLACE

That is exactly what was happening in Israel. In Israel, if someone was unable to own land and harvest a crop to take care of themselves and to feed themselves and others, then Israel had three definite steps available for them.

The first step, if you owned land, you were called to obey this commandment from the Lord, “Leave the gleanings.” What does that mean, leave the gleanings? Well, that means, when you’re bundling up your harvest, whenever you bundle something, something’s going to fall out. Count that as the providence of God for people who don’t have land or maybe who are not capable of planting and harvesting but they can come out and pick up the gleanings. Notice they are unable to do full work, but they can do some work. They can’t plant and harvest — they don’t have strength or the ability to do that — but they could pick up gleanings. Therefore, you don’t just go hand it to them, but you leave it on the ground so they can pick it up and actually do some work even though mercy is being provided.

Another thing that was stated is, when you harvest, leave the corners of your field — don’t harvest the corners. Well, there are some people who don’t own land and they can’t plant and they can’t do a full harvest, but they could harvest a corner so leave that corner and let them harvest — see, they’re doing some work. You have made a provision for them because they’re incapable of doing the full work so you’ve made the provision for them.

And then the third thing that they would do is you would always have a relative who could be a kinsman redeemer who could take care of someone who could not provide for themselves so the kinsman redeemer was there. Now, by the way, also, the refuge cities were a place that they could flee to until they could “get back on their feet” as well.

Notice how all of the mercy provisions made also a provision for the blessing of work and the blessings that come from work. If someone was incapable of any work, get to the temple or someone could go to the temple for you and the priest had the storehouses from which they could administer to those incapable of work. Go and place yourself at the temple and people would give alms of mercy to you as well.

There were multiple ways to help those who could not work at all but the primary means of helping people was not simply to give them something, but to create a way for them to work. Avoiding of work is a pagan virtue, not a Christian virtue.

CHRISTIANS TURN A CREATION MANDATE INTO A REDEMPTION MANDATE

Christians embrace work as a creation mandate and, because of redemption, they change the creation mandate into a redemption mandate and make work an act of worship so that they do their work heartily unto the Lord and not only create jobs for others by the way they work but take what they have and make sure they’re providing for others in their family and beyond through the tithe, and the offerings, and the alms gifts and creating jobs for people.

How can we not only give if they are incapable of work but how can we create some work and use that as a transition in their life as they move into a full-time vocation through training or applications for jobs? I see this as a wonderful and positive bill because it responds to people in distress but it responds by encouraging and facilitating the blessing and virtues of work, not avoiding it or counting work as a curse.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER THE DIVINE WORK CHRIST HAS DONE FOR US

Praise God for the work that Jesus did. Here we are in need of mercy and what did He do? He shows us mercy by going to work and then He does a work for us to save us. Then He works in us so that we can now work, not for our salvation, but we can work for our Savior in every arena of life.

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

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

 

Is Alabama-founded PCA church encouraging gay people to identify by sin?

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NEW PCA CONFERENCE EMPOWERS LGBTQ PEOPLE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, there’s a conference coming up in a PCA church, Presbyterian Church in America, in St. Louis from July 26th through the 28th. The name of the conference is “Revoice”. Todd Pruitt wrote in an article, “The stated purpose of Revoice is supporting, encouraging and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex attracted and other LGBT Christians so they can experience the life-giving character of the historic Christian tradition.” Harry, anybody who knows anything about the Scriptures would have a large question mark hovering over the top of their head wondering, “Is this right?”

DR. REEDER: Hardly a day goes by without people asking me because I am a minister in a PCA church. When I am asked about it, I say, “Well, I have three issues with this conference.” Let me tell you what one of my issues is not. I do not have a problem with a church hosting a conference to define and discuss and propagate how you call sin “sin” and how do you minister effectively to sinners who are entangled in that sin. I find that commendable if that’s what’s being done.

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However, if you frame the conference from a secular world and life view instead of a Biblical world and life view, then I have a problem. Now, let me also say this: I will suspend judgments on the speakers in the conference until I hear what they’ve got to say. I have spoken in situations where you had a rainbow behind my head promoting the LGBTQ, but I came there to speak the truth in love.

And so, I’ll suspend judgment on what people say who participate until I hear what they say but I can and should apply some analysis to the framing of the conference by what has already been said.

What has already been said about Revoice? Well, first of all, it is set up to minister to those — and I quote now from what you have said, which is a quote from the website — “This is a conference established to help LGBTQ Christians” — gay Christians and bisexual Christians — “and to accept and navigate the historic Christian ethic.”

WE DO NOT IDENTIFY OURSELVES BY OUR SIN

It is absolutely unacceptable, untenable and unbiblical to identify any Christian by sin, in general, or by one’s embedded sin or entangling sin. In other words, I minister to people who deal with the issue of sexual promiscuity but I do not identify them, nor do I encourage them to identify themselves as “fornicating Christians” or “promiscuous Christians” or “pornographic Christians.”

We do not take entangling and embedded sins in our life that we are fighting and dealing with as the adjectival modifier of our Christianity. In other words, we don’t modify ourselves as any kind of Christian other than Christ-trusting, Gospel-driven, Spirit-filled … Biblical adjectives can describe us.

Do Christians have entangling sins? Yes. Do Christians have embedded sins? Yes, but one of the great hopes of the Gospel is you are not only forgiven from the penalty and shame of those sins, but you are also liberated from the power of those sins. You may have sin living in you, but you do not live under its dominion and you will be and can be liberated from the practice and eradication of those sins in your life.

WE WILL NOT ATTAIN THE KINGDOM WHILE EMBROILED IN THESE SINS

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6 that, “No fornicator, no adulterer, no effeminate, no glutton, no murderer, no drunkard, no homosexual shalt enter the kingdom of God.” Anyone who has surrendered to the idolatry of sin in those listed and there’s nine of them. And, by the way, seven of them were active with great horror in my life prior to my conversion. Some of them, God allowed me to walk away from the day of my conversion and some of them I’ve had to fight my whole life.

However, that’s the point: I don’t surrender to that as my identity in my life because the text goes on to say, “And such were some of you but you’ve been washed.” You’re not only washed with the blood of Jesus, but you’re washed with the power of the Spirit and the Word of God so that you are free from its shame and guilt and condemnation and you are free from its power and increasingly free from its practice.

And to identify any Christian with any sin is absolutely untenable and unbiblical. They may be well-motivated in what they’re doing, but it is counterproductive, unbiblical and untenable to call anyone a “gay Christian” and also to declare that the church is made up of sexual minorities as if there are categories of sexual sin that are embraced as a status within the church. No. Do we minister to sinners saved by grace fighting sexual sins? Yes, but we do not categorize them as minority groups within the church.

SIN IS INTERNAL AND MUST NOT BE PRESENTED TO OUTSIDE TEMPTATION, BUT FLEE

Thirdly, here’s what the Bible says in the Book of James: “Sin is the product of temptation and sinful desires.” Internally, I have a sinful desire — I lust — which is rooted in the idolatry of self. All sin is rooted in the idolatry of self. I am born with sinful desires.

Sin is not a created reality; it is a reality of our fallen nature and, therefore, the sinful desire is internal, whether it’s manifested in thievery, or gluttony, or drunkenness, or sexual promiscuity or sexual perversion, that is the product of my sin nature and, the remnant of it that still resides in me, the Bible calls it “the old man.”

Then there is temptation outside. Now, when temptation outside gets married to sinful desires, its product is sin — that’s its child — so how do I not have the child “sin” in my life? I get rid of sin by fleeing temptation and killing “the old man.” Sinful desires are not syndromes to be managed; they are sins to be mortified — to be killed — every single day. Some of these are very powerful, addictive, entangling sins such as sexual perversion and such as sexual promiscuity, but we don’t manage them — we kill them.

THIS IS NOT A NEW PATH; IT IS UNCHANGEABLE BIBLICAL ETHICS

Finally, we are not trying to help people “navigate a historic Christian tradition.” These are Biblical ethics. Biblical ethics is that sex is a gift from God within marriage and marriage is one man and one woman. That is a Biblical ethic, not a Christian tradition to manage, to tolerate, to conform to. It is a Biblical ethic to embrace in our life because we love the Lord and we love His Law and His Law is a gift to us of love. We don’t love His Law to obey it to be saved, but we love His Law because the one who saved us from our sins has told us this is the way we love Him and we love our neighbor.

Instead of embracing the sinful desires, we kill them. Instead of resisting temptation, we flee it. And that is what is missing in the framing of this conference. Hopefully, some participant is going to raise the clarion call of the Gospel: You can be forgiven of these sins, and you can be liberated from these sins and we are here to help you kill the desires and flee temptation by fixing your eyes on Jesus.

The Christian life is an ethic to embrace out of love to Christ — not simply a ritual or tradition to conform to with a managed life, but with a transformed life — and that’s why the Bible says, “And such were some of you.”

STAY STRONG IN LOVING THE SINNER, BUT HATING THE SIN

I love what Dr. Schaffer said: “I need to identify drunkenness as a sin, I need to identify prostitution and sexual immorality as sin, but I always need to be willing to clean the vomit off up the floor of the drunk and to provide a bed for the prostitute that leads the prostitute to freedom in Christ.”

You do not have to accept the behavior of a sinner in order to love the sinner — that’s a myth that must be dispelled. Nor is it loving the sinner by helping them manage sin. Loving sinners is to send them to the Savior, Who will set them free from its shame, its guilt and its power.

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

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

 

Alabama pastor to the suicidal: ‘Banish the thought of destruction. It’s not the answer’, ‘Many’ of us want to help

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CELEBRITY SUICIDES: WHY WOULD THEY DO IT?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you to an article out of World Magazine. Sad news as two well-known public figures, fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain, who both had successful careers and who both recently committed suicide.

The article goes on to say, the same week those suicides took place, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention released a distressing report that, over the last two decades, U.S. suicide rate has risen by 25 percent and, among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death. In 2016, nearly 45,000 people in the United States ended their lives. That means there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides.

DR. REEDER: Here are these two celebrities — rich, famous, acclaimed yet empty in life. One of our issues today is we keep telling people that more money, more power, more applause, more fame will make your life fulfilled. Then why is it that celebrities have the highest rate of drug use? Why do they seek out therapists more than any other class in our society?

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The answer is not found in more money, more possessions, more power and more fame; the answer’s found in your soul and the hope that transcends all of the challenges of life in a fallen world.

THE DOUBLE-EDGE SWORD OF SUICIDE IN TODAY’S CULTURE

At the same time that we cringe at the skyrocketing rate of suicide, we are attempting to normalize suicide as a therapeutic act through doctor-assisted suicide or medically-assisted suicide. If suicide is simply a therapeutic act that the medical profession now ought to engage in and embrace and make money off of, then why does the rise of suicide cause within us a revulsion? We know it’s not right.

There are not many things more difficult for me as a pastor than ministry in the lives of families in which suicide has taken place. As much as we would decry, rightly so, suicide as a usurpation of the divine prerogative — the Lord gives life and the Lord takes away life and blessed be the name of the Lord — and the landscape of suffering that suicide leaves behind in the lives of family and loved ones and friends, as we see all of that, the fact is the contributing factors to the act of suicide in our culture today are staggering.

TEMPORARY DESPAIR: WHAT IS IT AND WHAT CAN HELP?

I agree with the one pastor who said this is one of the most difficult things because people took an irreversible remedy to a temporary problem — the temporary problem of emotional distress or chemical imbalance. The fall and the sin not only affected us spiritually and emotionally, but it also affected us chemically and, therefore, it is appropriate to treat some things with chemical therapy.

Interestingly, the rise in chemical treatments of suicidal emotions has actually not reduced the number of suicides, but the number of suicides with the advancement of chemical and drug treatments has actually increased.

Now why? Any chemical treatment has to be repeated. Sometimes, we’re treating some suicidal tendencies as a chemical issue when, in reality, it’s a spiritual issue. That doesn’t mean we do away with those treatments because sometimes it is a physical issue. Sometimes, it’s a spiritual issue.

Now, in most of life, when I make wrong decisions, I can reverse that wrong decision but, in the case of suicide, once you’ve made that decision, you can’t turn it back around. Now, if I get depressed and think that a drunken spree will get me out of it as an answer to my depression, I’ll eventually sober up but if my answer to my depression is suicide, I can’t walk that one back

In ministry in families where there is suicide, it needs to be done very carefully because there are multiple factors at work, all the way from chemical issues, physical issues, wrong use of drugs, self-medicating with drugs and influences in the culture.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

Our culture is telling everybody that the whole goal of life is to be happy. I am grateful for happiness, but happiness is built upon happenstance, which is directly related to circumstances. What the Bible commends to us is joy, which transcends circumstances — circumstances of adversity and circumstances of prosperity and success.

What we have is joy in the Lord. You rejoice in the Lord in the midst of everything because you know He’s at work. The loss of the transcendent that comes through a relationship with Christ over the difficulties and challenges in a fallen world in relationships — in your physiology, in your body, your psychosomatic dynamics in your life — that sense of a joy that is there has now been replaced by a promise of happiness. And, if you don’t have happiness, then in despair, they sometimes are influenced just to end their life. Social media has also produced impact in the lives of people.

And now we’re in a society that belittles the hope that addresses the difficulties of life and that is the victory and triumph of Christ in all of the arena of life. Without the message of hope, all of that is contributing, I believe, to this rise in suicide.

CHRISTIAN HOPE — AND ACTION — CAN COMBAT DESPAIR AND SUICIDE

That world and life view is the answer to reversing this rise in suicide. We do not commit suicide — what we do is commit life. We don’t commit murder against others, nor against ourselves. There is hope through the power of the Gospel to address spiritual and emotional issues and we want to speak the truth in love to one another. By God’s redeeming grace, we can do it and, in God’s common grace, we would pray that that would pervade society.

CULTURE OF DEATH COMES FROM THE FATHER OF DEATH AND LIES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  John 8:44 — we ended yesterday’s program with this verse but let me take you back here again. Christ, speaking of the devil, he said, “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him. He lies; it is consistent with his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Harry, is there a lie from the lips of Satan into the ear of these people who are contemplating suicide?

DR. REEDER: Tom, I am not able to be there at the moment when the person makes this decision to end their life. I don’t know whether it’s a chemical misfire, or an emotional despair or spiritually deceived, but I do know this. The propagation of a death culture throughout our culture that impacts this statistic of suicide, that is what Satan has brought.

Whether it’s the destruction of life in the womb, destruction of life at the end of life in active euthanasia, or whether it is the normalizing of suicide, I do know the death culture is the product of the lie of Satan.

LET’S WORK ON PROMOTING LIFE — NOW AND ETERNAL

What we want to do is be about life: life that is in Christ, a life that promotes life in the lives of others. If you know someone whose loved one committed suicide or if you know a family where someone committed suicide, don’t step in with just pat answers. You need to step into the lives of survivors with thoughtfulness.

It may have been a medical issue, it may have been confusion that came from self-medication, it may have come off a period of time of abandonment — with all of those contributing factors, there may be a singular answer or they may be multiple answers. And what we need to do is to step in with hope that is found in Christ to those who are the survivors of loved ones who committed suicide and minister to them.

THOSE WHO ARE ON THE BRINK, WE CAN HELP

I also want to say to all who are considering suicide, there may be physical and medical reasons that you are contemplating this and there are doctors who will thoughtfully help you. It may be a spiritual issue in your life. There are many of us as pastors and friends and Christians who want to minister to you.

At this moment, right now, banish the thought of destruction. It’s not the answer. Pursue the reality that there is an answer and pursue that reality in the right direction. Is it a spiritual issue in your soul? Then we want to bring the hope of the Gospel. Is it a chemical issue or a medical issue that’s taking place in your body and brain? Then there are people who are wise who can help you there — medical doctors who are thoughtful and will minister to you.

There is hope and the hope is in life, not death, because there is One who died for you that you can have life everlasting. Ultimately, your best days can be ahead of you in Christ as Lord and Savior.

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

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

How to think about ‘human rights council’ and elitist concept of abortion as ‘human right’

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WHY DOESN’T THE U.S. WANT TO BE PART OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, today, I want to deal with human rights, touching upon what is going on in the U.N. and also touching upon the abortion issue. Let’s go first to the story that broke last week. The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it was withdrawing the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Council with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley calling the 47-member council a “protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.”  

DR. REEDER: I applaud this. And then the question will come out that, yeah, but in our analysis of the Singapore Agreement, we did make a critique that President Trump should have put front and center the human rights issue and now you applaud us pulling out of the Human Rights Council in the U.N.?

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The reason we put it front and center for Singapore is it needs to be front and center and the reason why I would applaud this tactic is the Human Rights Council has done very little, if anything, concerning human rights. It has done a lot to use itself as an instrument and bring the United Nations as a player concerning critique of the only Democratic nation in the Middle East and that’s Israel.

COUNCIL IS A REBRANDED FALSE POLITICAL TOOL

Secondly, the council is not only made up of some of the worst violators of human rights, but it has in the leadership the worst violators of human rights such as Russia and China and their embrace of North Korea. The Trump administration has warned, “If you do not make changes, then we are going to withdraw.” Ambassador Haley and her team have brought numerous remedial proposals to recalibrate the Human Rights Council. Not only have they been rejected but, actually, the council has plunged further into its political leverage game as opposed to dealing with human rights.

This Human Rights Council is a morphing of the previous organization — the Human Rights Commission of the U.N. was disbanded because of its political maneuvering. It was disbanded and then reformulated as the Human Rights Council. The very same reason it had to be abandoned has now corrupted the organization again. Hopefully, if it does get restructured, it will be restructured with integrity.

TWO PEOPLE LABEL ABORTION WITH DIAMETRICALLY DIFFERENT TERMS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me take you to two other stories that I want to combine — one is rather disheartening and the other is rather inspirational. The Daily Wire is reporting Richard Dawkins is defending eugenics abortion. He said, “It’s all about human suffering.”

Let me take you to another story where Texas Governor Greg Abbott has promised a teenager that he will grant his dying wish to outlaw abortion altogether in the state of Texas. Teen cancer patient, Jeremiah Thomas, had one wish before he died and he offered that wish to the pro-life governor of Texas. His request? Treat abortion like an act of murder.

DR. REEDER: Well, I agree with him. I’m grateful for the unselfish and insightful and convicting wish that he made to Make-A-Wish Foundation. He did get his audience with the governor and the governor affirmed and quoted the fact that 68 percent of Texans believe this barbaric act ought to be stopped and it is an act of murder and is no different than and comparable to the Holocaust policies of the Third Reich of Nazi Germany.

Tom, I applaud Pope Francis for declaring the same thing, that this is an act comparable to and actually more horrific than the practices of Nazi Germany. The response of the famed and I would say ill-famed pseudoscientist, Richard Dawkins, and his promotion of atheism — and, by the way, also inconsistency with atheism, if violence is actually how the human race came into existence in terms of species development with his atheistic evolutionary view of origins, he says that Pope Francis is nonsensical and that this is just a part of purifying the human race and reducing human suffering.

THIS IS NOTHING BUT EUGENICS

What he is saying is this: the eugenics movement is alive and well. The same eugenics movement that was propagated in the United States, that was quoted and used by Adolf Hitler and in the practices of Nazi Germany — that is embraced by Richard Dawkins that, “Actually, we’re doing these people a favor by killing them.”

He would point to Denmark and say, “What a wonderful success that, of the pregnancies that were diagnosed with children having Downs Syndrome, only four made it to birth and the rest of them were killed.” Iceland has “eradicated” Downs Syndrome and that’s a false statement. It hasn’t eradicated Downs Syndrome, but it has eradicated Downs Syndrome babies by killing them — that’s what it’s done. France, itself, is now outlawing commercials that present Downs Syndrome children in a favorable light because it might cause grief to those who decided to kill their Downs Syndrome babies.

Dawkins is a propagator and a perpetuator and a celebrator of the eugenics movement in that there are certain children that, if unwanted, inconvenient or imperfect, then we have the right to declare those lives unworthy of life. And by the way, we’re going to end your suffering. What we’re really doing is ending our suffering because we have determined them as inconvenient or as emotionally difficult if we have a child that is not “the perfect Gerber baby.”

And so here we see a human right that needs to be eradicated and that is the so-called right to kill the child in the womb. I agree with the teenager that it is a barbaric practice of murder and let’s eradicate it. I agree with Governor Abbot that the commitment to eradicate it needs to be a part of his political party’s platform, the Republican Party. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has decided that the all-out assault on the child in the womb is the best way to get votes from the cultural elite so they have taken the opposite direction and that is not only to destroy life in the womb by this “barbaric practice,” but to insist on taxpayer funding for such acts.

STANDING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Tom, to sum up from a Christian world and life view, in order to promote true human rights, it is commendable that this administration, through the leadership of Ambassador Haley, has fired the shot across the bow of the U.N. by saying we will not participate in a Human Rights Council that actually uses the language of human rights for political purposes and political enmity against certain democratic countries and promotes the biggest violators of human rights to disconnect as a matter of integrity as well as, hopefully, an influential tactic to disband this one even as its predecessor was disbanded and, hopefully, a true human rights council can be developed out of the U.N. in the future.

Secondly, we at “Today in Perspective” would utterly decry any notion that the killing of the unborn in the womb is a human right or a civil right to be protected under any constitution of any civilized country and we would applaud not only the teenager who used his dying wish to highlight this, but the governor of Texas’ response that he would commit himself to this teenager’s wish that it would be a political objective, the eradication of the barbaric practice of abortion and the destruction of life in the womb — human life — that is deemed imperfect, inconvenient or unwanted. There is no such right.

We, of course, would decry the barbaric eugenics notion that there are some lives we determine as not worth living and, therefore, the notion that abortion ends human suffering — all it does is perpetuate the notion that my convenience in life is more important than another person’s life if their life would become an inconvenience to me.

DON’T LET FALSE LANGUAGE AND LIES FOOL YOU

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, our Savior said of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth for there is no truth in him.” Tomorrow on “Today in Perspective”, I want to look at another aspect of murder and that is the taking of one’s own life.

DR. REEDER: Now suicide outranks homicide in many of our locales. And, Tom, you’re right: Satan is a murderer from the beginning. He’s also a liar. One of the things he does is he uses the language of truth in order to promote the lie. That’s what’s happened in the Human Rights Council where they use the language of human rights in order to promote human oppression among the leadership countries. However, we have a Savior who speaks the truth truthfully and Who has given His life that we can have life and the fact that every life is sacred, made in the image of God, and everyone living can be saved if they put their trust in Christ as Lord and Savior.

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

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

Alabama pastor’s analysis of immigrant parent-child border separation controversy

(Pixabay)

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BORDER IMMIGRATION SITUATION? WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN VIEWPOINT?

(Editor’s note: This transcript is edited to reflect Wednesday’s news that President Trump signed an executive order meant to keep families together and stop border separation.)

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, immigration is back in the headlines. It now appears there are illegal immigrants coming across with their families — at least there’s an appearance that they’re a family unit. If they’re seeking asylum and they don’t come in through a legal port of entry, the parents were being separated from the children. Individuals on one side are saying such a practice is cruel and inhumane and individuals on the other side said the U.S. was following the law.

Washington Free Beacon senior writer, Elizabeth Harrington, said that the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy was simply enforcing laws already on the book and meant to disincentivize people from entering the U.S. illegally.

DR. REEDER: From a Christian world and life view, you’ve got the necessity and the call to submit to lawful laws so is the immigration lawful? Secondly, you’ve got the institution of the family that is foundational to culture and that is foundational to the well-being of individuals so the separation of children from parents is never to be thoughtlessly embraced.

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Is it right for a nation to determine its borders and immigration policies? Well, of course it is. We would say that about families, wouldn’t we? When you have a house, it’s okay to have doors and walls. The name of hospitality does not require you to abandon security for your family.

Well, the same thing is true for a nation. We are to be an immigration-friendly country. That has been our policy from the very beginning and that’s why we’ve got that Statue of Liberty — “Give me your poor, give me your helpless.” We’ll take them and we will see what the American culture can do in their lives with its Constitution, its Bill of Rights and its values.

REVISITING ELLIS ISLAND IMMIGRATION AND THAT MINDSET OF FAIR REFUGE

TOM LAMPRECHT: When immigrants came in and saw the statue of liberty, they did have to go through a process at Ellis Island.

DR. REEDER: Exactly, Tom, and that was in the era from the 1830s all the way to the mid-20th century when this nation had a very inviting immigration policy — but it did have a policy, it did have a process. There was and Ellis Island that you went to.

Is that valid from a Christian world and life view? Yes. Should we be immigrant friendly? Yes. Should we be welcoming? Yes. That is Biblical and it is historical for this nation. It’s good for the nation and it’s good for the immigrants to have a policy and a process.

Now, a second observation that I would make, when you violate the law, does it affect your personal life and your family? Yes. There are multiple laws that, when you violate those laws, it separates your family. There are people that go off into prison and their children are left behind.

THERE IS AN IMPORTANT ROLE OF THE CHURCH: SERVE THE PEOPLE IN CHARITY

That gets me to a third observation: What should the church do in cases like that? In this situation right now, we should bring analysis to the policy and the process and we should insist and speak to public policy and tell our government to have a welcoming but thoughtful immigration policy and process. In the present situation, the church of Jesus Christ should be reaching out to these individuals on a personal basis of ministry and on a personal basis, particular ministry, in the lives of families that are undergoing this separation — we need to be there. We’re going to minister to people — that’s what we’re going to do.

IMMIGRATION LAWS ARE A MESS, BUT DO FAMILIES NEED TO SUFFER TO PROVE A POINT?

Now, do I believe you need to have a law and a process? Absolutely. Will we submit to it? Yes, but the church is going to do its job of ministering to people made in the image of God. We’re going to feed people, we’re going to clothe people, we’re going to share the Gospel with people and we’re going to love people.

We have to ask ourselves a question: Do we have to separate families? I am fully aware that there is a tactic that is being used by the traffickers of illegal immigrants that says that the previous administration had set up a process so that, if you show up on the border, you’re not at a port of entry but you claim asylum and if you have children, they will let you in, tell you to report on a monthly basis and then you can kind of blend in. It became known as a tactic so, “Bring your children.” And then also the tactic of make up families that actually weren’t families, but actually the kidnapping of children, to put with adults to say that they’re families in order to gain this tactic.

Then our present administration is saying we are trying to do this to show people how horrific our lack of a policy is. This is a tactic to try to stop people from bringing children and it’s a tactic to try to get the Congress to come up with a policy so we don’t do this anymore.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, to that end, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said this: “Surely, it’s the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body who makes the laws, rather than changing them, asks the body who enforces the laws not to enforce the laws. That cannot be the answer,” she said.

DR. REEDER: And I agree with her on that. I also think that you can think through how to enforce the laws in the least unnecessarily punitive way for the well-being of the defenseless, which I see as the children in this situation.

CALL TO ACTION FOR LAWMAKERS TO ACT IMMEDIATELY AND WISELY

Finally, let me just say this, as a pastor, from a Christian world and life view, not only am I pleading with the lawmakers of this nation to bite the bullet politically and do what needs to be done to get a welcoming yet clear policy and process of immigration in place and a resolve to enforce that policy through its laws.

Not only am I pleading with you to do that, but right now I’m asking you to find something else to do rather than separating children from their parents. I understand there are a number of these families that aren’t true families, but they are true children. My heart just goes out to these children and something has to be done.

What I find interesting is looking at the people who are appealing to the Bible to “let the children come unto me,” who are the same people who are supporting policies to kill those children in the womb. When I see that contradiction, Tom, I am overwhelmed. I see a politician politically grandstanding, quoting the Bible — “Suffer the children to come unto me” — and, at the same time, promoting a policy to kill children in their most defenseless place, which is in the womb. I find it so hard not to say, as the current generation says, “Just blow up my head,” at that moment. That’s exactly what it feels like to me.

THIS IS A SANCTITY OF LIFE ISSUE, TOO

However, on the other hand, to those who hold to the sanctity of life of children in the womb, you’ve got to find a way to affirm the sanctity of life of those children. Those are real children. Yes, they may be pawns and, yes, they may be being used by adults — yes to all of that — but they are still children and they cannot be taken away from parents unless it is absolutely essential. If we can find another way to do it, we’ve got to find another way to do it and I appeal to you to find another way to do it. Even if it’s creating a bigger and better funded Ellis Island approach, you’ve got to find a way to do that. That would be my exhortation.

Therefore, to our politicians: grow up and fix this thing. Fix it so that we are a refuge nation yet we are a nation that is secure and properly managing its borders. Secondly, affirm the sanctity of the family, and the sanctity of life and the sanctity of these children and find a way to do that while you uphold the law.

COMING UP MONDAY: POLITICANS QUOTING SCRIPTURE FOR OWN PURPOSES BUT WHAT DID IT REALLY MEAN?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let’s take one of our upcoming programs and go back to something you mentioned towards the close and that is politicians using the Bible both on the left and on the right to further their agendas, which is something we haven’t seen in awhile.

DR. REEDER: Am I glad to hear our politicians and elected officials using the Bible? Absolutely. But how do you use the Bible and what was Jesus saying when he said, “Suffer the children to come unto me,” and what was Paul saying when he said to be submissive to the governing authorities?

Is that a blanket obedience of every law as the Nazi regime said when it quoted that passage or is it a thoughtful call to always being under a governing authority, yet that does not mean the acceptance of unjust law and there comes a time you must obey God rather than man? Let’s talk about that in our next program.

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

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

James Comey echo of J. Edgar Hoover — amassing power, declaring himself moral authority in FBI

(Wikicommons)

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NEW LIGHT ON COMEY’S FBI ACTIONS DURING ELECTION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, it was a week ago that the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report. On Monday of this week, Michael Horowitz, along with FBI director, Christopher Wray, went before the Senate judiciary committee and, on Tuesday, they both went before the House judiciary committee. What is your take on this report where the key word seems to be “bias”?  

DR. REEDER: I’m trying to look at this from a Christian world and life view. In the current testimony, we have been informed that further reports on the investigation of the previous director of the FBI, James Comey, has yet to be published but what’s already been said is pretty damaging in terms of the FBI, in general, and its director, James Comey, in particular.

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WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF FBI?

However, I think I would look at this in a historical perspective first in order to look at it from a Christian world and life view. We need to remember that the FBI was not instituted at the founding of our country — in fact, it would have been unthinkable. It was really in the context of crisis that the FBI was begun at the early part of the 20th century — I think the actual year was 1908 if I’m not mistaken — and it was initiated because of the rising movement of anarchists. It was also because of the entrenchment of organized crime that had begun.

However, it was a great battle to put that in place, the notion of a national police force, and then the iconic leader stepped forward, J. Edgar Hoover. He reigned for decades — which, by the way, is a little bit of an insight from a Christian world and life view — and, throughout those decades, solidified tactics, solidified strategies, solidified power and solidified a lot of information that was used.

And it became documented and published that he not only wiretapped individuals illegally, amassed information with multiple evidences of blackmail. The backdrop of that was some extraordinary police work that he did through the FBI: the breaking of organized crime in the 1930s and the 1940s, the rooting out of anarchists in the middle of the 20th century.

Some extraordinarily brave, courageous, honorable, effective, insightful agents and leaders just litter the pages of our history. I hope and pray that’s not lost because, also, in our current FBI, there are some very honorable, noble, effectively courageous agents that are serving us to maintain order in our society.

AN EGOTISTICAL MAN IN CHARGE CAN TWIST AGENCY’S PURPOSE

James Comey has almost become an echo of J. Edgar Hoover in terms of amassing power, declaring himself — and this is what J. Edgar Hoover did — he declared himself as the moral authority that determined the strategies and tactics and values of the FBI — not the law, but J. Edgar Hoover. And even in the publication of his memoirs that James Comey has been promoting over these past weeks he recently published, what’s clear is he had set himself up as the moral authority in terms of what was right and what was wrong and would knowingly disregard not simply precedents but laws and regulations in order to do what he thought was morally right at the time. What we’re finding out is that his determination of what was morally right was actually illegal.

THERE IS, AT TIMES, RIGHTFUL CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

We’re going to do a program on if there is a time, from a Christian world and life view, where it is right to disobey and disregard a law. Yes, but how do you do that? Not by setting yourself up as a moral authority but appealing to a higher moral authority and the ethical absolutes that the law has violated and, therefore, that law must be disobeyed.

Now what we have are individuals, following the lead of Director Comey, who decided that they were going to become political players in the 2016 election. The 2016 election was an extraordinary election. It is still divisive in our country to this point and this time. What was also very clear is that it was divisive in the FBI as you had certain FBI agents who said, “Let’s just do our job and do it right,” and there were some who decided, “Our job is to make sure that one presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, is to be elected over the other presidential candidate and we are going to use our information to accomplish that.”

The FBI director, himself, began to become a player in the election and, as a player in the election, it wasn’t so much of his loyalty to one party or one candidate over another, but it was the loyalty to himself and what he felt and what he determined was the moral compass of the nation and what needed to be done in light of the investigations that were given to him and his publication of those investigations’ selective information given to the public.

And he became the arbiter, he became the center of it, he determined that this is what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, when it needs to be said from himself as the moral authority to direct the nation. Therefore, he committed acts that were documented as illegal and transgressions of stated law — not just precedents but stated law.

DANGER OF CENTRAL AGENCIES

There are some things in here, Tom, that we cannot miss. The centralization of power is a very dangerous thing. Its argument is always around the principle of efficiency. “You need a centralized authority for efficiency.” And, when you decentralize authority, you get the power to the people and more accountable, but it becomes less effective and more difficult in its implementation.

The FBI exists as a centralized and very powerful authority. Probably the two most powerful instruments we have other than our military is the IRS and the FBI. Both of them, in the recent years, have become politicized and used their centralized power and their extraordinary reach to intimidate and to influence and to direct the affairs of this nation instead of their particular position which is an equitable collection of taxes and also the enforcement.

What’s become abundantly clear is that the FBI had no authority, no right, no precedent and no law to appeal to in terms of its decisions on prosecutions. That is not the job of the FBI that James Comey took upon himself to make those determinations. That is the job of the arm of prosecution in the Department of Justice, whether it’s local, state or federal. That is not his job but he, by his own moral decisions, he felt it was needed in the country and made those decisions himself, and appropriated that power, and overstepped his boundary and moved the FBI out from under the Department of Justice as an investigative agent to taking the place of the Department of Justice in the area of prosecution and publication of information.

THIS IS NOT JUST A GOVERNMENT ISSUE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, it is interesting, whether it’s Satan’s rebellion, whether it’s an individual wanting to commit a personal sin or whether it’s an FBI director, it’s, “I want to be in charge and I’m going to throw off any accountability.”

DR. REEDER: And that’s why this accountability and self-investigation must always be a part of governing authority structures from a Christian world and life view — accountability — and I would remind all of us that there is an ultimate accountability. We will give an account of every action and every word.

“It is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgment.” And we either stand at that judgment naked under all of the weight of our sins in word and deed and thought or we stand in that judgment clothed with the righteousness of Christ having confessed that we are sinners and put our trust in the one who took our place under judgment on the cross for our judgment so that we could have not only forgiveness in eternal life, but the presence of the Spirit of God for a changed life.

And a life that has been changed by the grace of God is a life that is always seeking the investigation of the Spirit of God and self-examination and other examination. “Examine yourself,” Paul said, “to see if you be of the faith.” Investigation is certainly a part of the Christian world and life view and fleeing to Christ because of our inadequacies as we find ourselves guilty of sinners is the call of God’s grace and the provision of His grace for everlasting life.

COMING UP FRIDAY: IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT CREATING TURMOIL IN NATION

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, on Friday’s edition of Today in Perspective, immigration is back on the front page and there’s something of a controversy concerning the separation of children from their families.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, this is a very difficult subject. I’m almost hesitant to take it on with you, but I know so many people are asking the questions. I think there are some answers but some of the challenges of this really need to be thought through so let’s do that tomorrow, Tom.

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

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

Historic North Korea Summit explainer and backstory

(White House/Instagram)

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HISTORIC AMERICA/NORTH KOREA SUMMIT — HOW DID IT MEASURE UP?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, June 12th is a day that many of us will remember for a long time. No doubt, it could go down as a very significant day in the relations between the United States and the people of South Korea and the people of North Korea. That, of course, is the date of the Singapore summit. Let’s just take a look at that today now that the dust has settled.  

DR. REEDER: There’s a backstory to this that I want to get to that I think is really important.

FIRST AGREEMENT: TO ESTABLISH PEACE

TOM LAMPRECHT: There are four very broad bullet points that both Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump signed. The first bullet point says: “The United States and North Korea commit to establish new U.S.-North Korea relations in accordance with the desire of the people of the two countries for peace and prosperity.”

DR. REEDER: Whenever you hear that, you are reminded immediately, from a Christian world and life view, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We have said many times that war is never a foreign policy instrument; war is the failure of foreign policy. While foreign policy can never be peace at any cost, there needs to be a peace and people being willing to pay a cost.

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To have peace not simply between the North Korean nation and the United States, to have that as an objective, is certainly desirable but even more so, if you’ve lived in South Korea, you would desperately want peace as well.

That raises the specter of the distinct possibility of the greatest desire of many of the South Koreans that I know and that great desire is a reunification of the Koreans. They look at it this way: if the wall can come down in East Germany and West Germany and they can be reunited, then cannot the line of demarcation, the 38th parallel, eventually be erased and there be a reunification of the Koreans?

Of course, something has got to happen in North Korea, which deifies its dictator and he has unfettered authority and control, which never can be a part of the reunification, but they see this as a possible step. And I was actually with a large number of South Koreans and those who, at one time, were in North Korea that were refugees and are now pastors in the Presbyterian Church in America. I was with a large number of them while all of this was going on and their hopefulness is unbounded.

They said, “You have no idea our tears when we saw Kim Jong Un shaking hands with our president and what that could possibly lead to.” And those who, of course, I was with, they are distinctly praying for that. In fact, one president of a seminary who is Korean, when I was talking with him, the tears were welling up in his eyes at the thought of the possibility.

SECOND AGREEMENT: LASTING PEACE (AND POSSIBLE REUNIFICATION?)

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, the second bullet point is very similar to the first, although it talks about the lasting and stable peace. “The United States and North Korea join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula.” This might be a good time to bring up the fact that there was something missing from this agreement and that was the human rights issue in North Korea.

DR. REEDER: The backstory that everyone is saying, of course, is that it is on the table and it is being talked about. There will be no progress, ultimately, to this treaty without the affirmation of human rights — that is what is being promised — but I find it troublesome that it was not on the front burner and not stated upfront and even the highlighting of those who we know right now — American, Japanese and South Koreans — that are in these horrendous situations, imprisoned and tortured.

Particularly, of course, we are fully aware of the large number of Christians in North Korea that have come under this torture. I am actually making a personal plea and initiative to our present administration that this not simply be assumed that it’s going to be worked on, but that it be made a front piece issue in the conversations.

THIRD AGREEMENT: DENUCLEARIZATION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Bullet point three reaffirming the April 27th, 2018 declaration: “The North Koreans commit to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

DR. REEDER: Now we’re back to something positive. No longer is it nuclear control and no longer is a nuclear simple treaty over freezing the number of nuclear weapons. Most discussions in the past have simply been around, “You can’t do testing. You can’t make advances,” and simply retarding the nuclear program of North Korea.

This treaty has put on the table, front and center, the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula. There still remains some definition to that, but that is a pretty clear statement that I find extremely encouraging, which is why it was important to declare the United States commitment to the security of the Korean peninsula if, in fact, our treaty would insist on their removing nuclear weapons.

And immediately comes to mind President Reagan’s language that any such commitment has to have not simply a trust factor, but a verification factor. That was something that is, in a meaningful way, missing in the Iran treaty. What you will look to is trust, confirm and verify of the commitment to denuclearize.

FOURTH AGREEMENT: RETURNING OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS’ REMAINS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Point four apparently was added during the discussions between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump: “The United States and North Korea commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

DR. REEDER: That would include those who have died having been imprisoned during the Korean conflict. I think that was an important addition that needs to be able to bring a focus to their grieving process and some closure to it. That was an important issue.

THIS IS A GREAT POINT WHERE CHRISTIANITY CAN RETURN

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I guess the big question many people are asking is what is different this time?

DR. REEDER: Part of the reason they got to the table was, in some form or fashion, the present administration was able to get the Chinese to bring some pressure to bear upon Korea and, therefore, the hollowing out of their economy.

They are at a very precarious position in their economy where things just cannot continue. They’re fully aware of that and now, hopefully, China will maintain that pressure, very much the way the pressure of the economy brought the Iron Curtain down and the East German economy and the Russian economy just came to a hollowing out and they could not exist and, therefore, an unheard-of openness to relationships was established with the “Communist Bloc” under the Reagan presidency. In whatever form or fashion, in this moment, the same thing seems to be happening in North Korea.

GOD HAS ACTED IN NORTH KOREA BEFORE; HOPING HE WILL AGAIN

I am praying that, through all of this, an open door for missionary work is going to be established, some way, somehow. I remember our missions pastor who has now gone to be with the Lord, Tom Cheely, he and I used to pray directly that we could see the Gospel go to North Korea unfettered and I believe that is the greatest hope for the reunification.

Tom, why is it that there are so many Christians in Korea? What many people do not know is that Pyongyang was the epicenter of a revival in the late 19th and early 20th century in Korea. It was led by evangelical Presbyterians and, right there, in Pyongyang, was the place where the epicenter was. In fact, the very first seminary is on a hill right there in that capital city. It has been taken over by the communist government and actually made a museum of communism, but the building is still there and I am praying that again, one day, there is going to be an evangelical reformed Presbyterian seminary again — if not, then I’m more than happy for it to be an evangelical Baptist seminary — but I am praying for that to happen.

One of the reasons there are so many Christians in South Korea is how many fled from North Korea at the conclusion of the Korean conflict and went to South Korea. The actual epicenter of the Korean revival and awakening in the 20th century was not in South Korea but it was in North Korea and the Korean war pushed them south because of the persecution that was brought to them.

They are all praying that they will be able to go back north, they have family there, they have churches that are still there and they want that Gospel door to open up again. When you hear that name, Pyongyang, remember that was the epicenter of a Gospel movement. Pray that it will again happen.

And the symbol for me, Dr. Joel Kim, the president of Westminster Seminary, shared in such a powerful way in a talk that I heard him give, is that seminary on that hill one day will no longer be claimed for use to display Communist history, but will be liberated and again the teaching of the word of God and the training of Gospel ministers will again take place and that’s my great hope right now in Korea.

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

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

News Fatigue? How to think about abundance of 24-hr ‘news’

(W.Miller/YHN)

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IS TOO MUCH NEWS A BAD THING?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you to a Pew Research Report today. Almost 7 in 10 Americans have “news fatigue.” Sixty-eight percent feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days compared with 3 in 10 who say they like the amount of news they get. Interestingly, Republicans feel more worn out by the news, more so than Democrats. What does this tell us about news and what does this tell us about the American culture?

DR. REEDER: Almost exactly a year ago, my sister went to be with the Lord. I used to talk to her every day. Well, I can promise you, in that statistic, she would be numbered with that 3 in 10. My sister could devour the news. She would not only have the news story; she would have the news story on the news story and the news story on the news story that’s on the news story.

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She would come up with so much information that it would be overwhelming. She had immersed herself in it and was saturated with it and processing it and would get upset with her siblings if we had not spent the same amount of time on it.

TOM LAMPRECHT: And she’s one of the reasons we do this program.

DR. REEDER: That’s exactly where I was heading is that, in the providence of God, when I pastored in Charlotte, our church had a radio station that had been given to us by CBN and Pat Robertson. The genesis of this program actually began with that when we started the station that said, “We report the news; we don’t make the news,” and then we would separate news reporting and editorializing on that station. And she was our executive director and just did a marvelous job. And, thus, eventually, came the birth of “Today in Perspective.”

WHEN NEWS WAS ONLY A HALF HOUR

And she went out, literally, and helped raise money to get this started, Tom. What we might see as the incidental cause of this fatigue, we have this proliferation of cable stations. When you have a 24-hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year station that’s devoted to news, you’re not only going to be providing a constant flow of news into the culture, but you’re going to be, as it were, making news instead of, at the end of a day — this is the way it used to be — you would come home, greet your family, have your supper and then you would sit down for a 30-minute program on news.

Then they expanded it to one hour. Okay, we can live with that. Then, all of a sudden, got added this thing called “Nightline,” which was an expansion of news and began to provide investigative work. Now investigative journalism became a vital part of the news industry instead of the reporter giving “just the facts.”

MORE NEWS MAKES IT HARD TO COMPARTMENTALIZE

All of that has contributed now to the multiplication of news and the multiplication of news media so that you can get news on a radio, on a television on your computer, as many people who listen to this program do so by virtue of the app.

I wish I could tell you we could have a cultural rebirth of the old era of providing news with the reasonable commitment of some portion of your day — 30 minutes or an hour — through trusted journalists who have worked through the stories and, “Here they are and I’m doing my best to give you some objective reporting,” and then, at the end of the program comes an editorial analysis.

I wish we could get back to that, but I have no real hope so you, as a listener, if you don’t want to be fatigued by the news phenomena in our culture, you are going to have to create your own environment and that’s exactly what I would encourage you to do. Find two or three trusted sources for news and then find programs like this one that will look at the news and events from a confessed, understood and unhidden commitment to looking at it through a particular prism and world and life view. I have two places that, basically, I go for news and I have two places I go to to be challenged and instructed in terms of looking at news and events from a world and life view.

WHEN DID WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THE NEWS BECOME THE STORY?

TOM LAMPRECHT: A few years ago, when there was one celebrity who was accused of some immorality, the news came on and they gave a poll that a certain percentage thought this individual was guilty and a certain percentage thought he was innocent. I thought to myself, “What does that have to do with the news story?”

DR. REEDER: Well, I think what that has to do with the news story is the fact that the journalist no longer wanted to report the news, but the journalist wanted to be a commentator on the news and refused to separate the reporting of the news from the commentary on the news or the editorializing of the news.

And, by the way, that surfaces something else, what we might call “poll fatigue.” Polling is, in a sense, a recent phenomenon — it’s less than a century old. It was in the presidential campaigns of 1938 that it first made its appearance in the initial run of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Now, when we get a report from the news, we immediately get a poll survey. Nobody is going to run for any office of any distinction without having on their staff someone who does polling. No company does anything without polling. I actually think that is contributing to the news fatigue because polling is a backdoor way of making a commentary on the news and undermining any sense of objective reporting because, once you introduce the poll, you then begin to interpret the news through the subjectivity of the pollster, the poll and the one reporting the poll and now we don’t have a news story any longer for me to process, but we have something that’s already been digested and processed and given to me in the guise of reporting the news.

THE POLLS ARE NOW INEFFECTIVE AND ESSENTIALLY BACKWARDS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, haven’t we gotten polling backwards? We used to hear what a politician would believe and embrace, we’d find a poll that a certain percentage would agree or disagree with that politician. Now the politician listens to the polls and then he espouses what he believes.

DR. REEDER: Which ought to be a part of that second category of editorializing, you then go to people who tell you when that’s happening. You remember the famed devolution of the Clintons and President Obama: “Here, I’m for traditional marriage when I was running for this office. When I wasn’t running for the office, I was not for traditional marriage. And then, when I ran for president, I was for traditional marriage and now that I’m president, “my position has evolved,’” which I believe actually should be devolved into the abyss of pagan ethics.

Now, that would be the time for an editorialist to bring all of that out and then you editorialize. Now we have to ask ourselves a question: our politicians, do they have any hope of being a statesman and that means someone who has a center and an anchor of a core of beliefs and the character to affirm that, while always being teachable will hold consistently to those ethical absolutes, will that be a part of their life or not?

Politicians, instead of, “Here’s my position and what do the polls say about how people view my position?” to now the politicians hire the pollster to find out what position they ought to take on something. What we desperately need are men and women of character who have convictions in life and who are aware of the news of the day but, instead of finding the trajectory to profit from it, they become part of sending the trajectory so that the culture can profit from stability, integrity, and then ethical framework that is rooted, I believe, rightly in a Christian world and life view.

THE GOAL OF THIS PROGRAM

And that’s what we are attempting to do — we claim no perfection on “Today in Perspective” but that is our consistent commitment, Tom. And stories like this bear out the fact that what we’re doing is needed but we need to keep doing it the way we’re doing it. “Here’s what the news story said. Now here is our analysis from a Christian world and life view.”

We must not try to pass our analysis off as news, nor attempt to be newsmakers but, having had the news reported, here is a presentation of a Christian world and life view of that event, what you can learn from it, how you can respond to it and then the appeal to people that a Christian world and life view becomes a glorious journey of growth in the grace of God that begins with a commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior so that you love the Lord now with all of your heart, your soul and your mind.

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

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

Where do you turn when your church strays from your faith?

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WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CHURCH STRAYS FROM YOUR FAITH?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to do a lightning round with you today. I’ve got three different stories. The first story is out of The National Catholic Reporter. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine is withdrawing from the main council of churches in a bid to distance itself from LGBT advocacy and other stances that the church says could compromise its public moral witness.

DR. REEDER: As you know, I do some talks on the Civil War and one of the fellows that I talk about finished out his life there — born in Brewer, Maine. He taught Natural and Revealed Religion at Boden College in Brunswick, Maine and then became the famous Union general called “The Hero of Little Roundtop” in the Battle of Gettysburg, Joshua Chamberlain.

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As he finishes his life out in Portland, Maine with a political appointed position, he was struggling with where to go to church. The very church that had known the great blessings of God and the great awakening in New England, The Congregational Church, had begun to go into liberalism but, more pronounced, Unitarianism with its abandonment of historic Trinitarian Christianity.

Chamberlain was not able to go to where all of the elite went to church in the first parish, so he went to the second congregational church in Portland, Maine and that church remained faithful, continued to be faithful and has eventually left the Congregational denomination completely after it completely left a historic confession as a denomination and it is now a part of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Now, the council of churches there in that area has decided to go the route of adopting, embracing and normalizing what God has identified as sin and, rightly so, the Roman Catholic Church says, “We will not go down that path.”

Well, now I turn to my compatriots within the evangelical church whereby we claim to uphold the Gospel of grace and stand in the legacy of the reformers who were willing to die for faithfulness to the Word of God, will you die not only for faithfulness to those doctrines surrounding the Gospel of redemption, but will you also be faithful to the Lord God who is not only our Redeemer but is our Creator and uphold the sanctity of marriage and sexuality?

PROFESSOR WANTS KINDERGARTEN CURRICULUM TO TEACH THE DANGERS OF TOXIC MASCULINITY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Let me take you to Story 2 out of Lifeset and Campus Reform. Kathleen Elliott, an assistant professor in the Education Foundation Department of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, wants to add an item to the current kindergarten curriculum. Along with recess and learning the ABCs, she wants little kids to fight “toxic masculinity.”

In a recently published article in On the Horizon called “Challenging Toxic Masculinity in Schools and Society,” Elliott argues that toxic masculinity supports and is supported by gender patterns of power that perpetuate broad inequities and schools have an important role to play in challenging these inequities.

DR. REEDER: For those of our audience that think the public school system is neutral concerning world and life view, you can see very quickly that it is not. Kindergarten and first grade, sometimes in contradiction to what their home and church is teaching, are being taught the tenets of the sexual revolutions, including autonomy in terms of gender — that I can be whatever gender I identify — and this matter of toxic masculinity.

When you look closer at the story, you find out that what the author is saying is not the perversion of masculinity is the issue, but masculinity, in general. Any notion of masculinity that is something distinctively different between men and women — both in who they are, how they are composed and how they are to function in life in a well-ordered society — that there is an absolute rebellion against that and that masculinity is toxic.

What is absent is any notion of toxic femininity. There will be nothing in the curriculum that says, “We must avoid toxic femininity,” because femininity as now being described, is incapable of being toxic in its behavior in the current culture. However, masculinity is incapable of not being vulnerable to the charge of toxicity.

From a Christian world and life view, we would teach masculinity, but you teach it Biblically. What are the two premier tenets of Biblical masculinity? First, men are called to be strong and courageous in embracing their responsibilities in life.

Secondly, they are to be sensitive and compassionate to embrace their relationships in life. That’s where the whole concept of the gentleman comes in. A man is using his God-given strengths and calling to be a protector and provider, generally, in life and, specifically, within his family and within responsibilities in relationships and not to use his power to intimidate.

Do we need to deal with toxic sin in the name of masculinity? Absolutely. Is masculinity toxic? Absolutely not. We are in desperate need of a reclamation of that Biblical phrase that’s repeated five times. We need to understand what it means when the Bible says, “Act like a man.” And, when the Bible says, “Act like a man,” you know, first, there’s something about manhood, and there’s something about living life as a man and there’s something about living life as a woman.

And what is it that brings masculinity and femininity into line? First, defining it Biblically and, second, the power of the Gospel.

FAMILY PENS “REVENGE OBITUARY”

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me take you to our third and final story, a rather unusual story out of Fox News. A seemingly normal obituary takes a dark turn. The obituary was for an 80-year-old woman, Kathleen Dehmlow. It first appeared in The Redwood Gazette. The obituary opens up by giving some history of the woman and how she was the mother of two children but how she later ended up having an affair and leaving her children. The last lines of the obituary: “She passed away on May 31st, 2018 in Springfield and now will face judgement. She will not be missed by her children, Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world is a better place without her.”

DR. REEDER: Every time you’re in a situation of a funeral, somebody’s going to say, particularly if they’re a believer, “Praise the Lord he or she is in a better place.” In this obituary, they said, “The world’s a better place without them here,” so an obituary became not a memorial to remember the positive things of their life.

Here, the family doesn’t seem to need comfort in grieving — they’re just venting — but there is a hidden lesson in this I don’t want our listeners to miss. The reality is we’re going to give an account for every word and deed we’ve done. The Bible says our lives will either justify our claim to saving faith in Christ or they will reveal that we didn’t have a saving faith in Christ. And all of humanity must appear before the judgement seat to give an account.

While we can debate the lack of decorum and civility as to the use of an obituary and the death of someone to “get even” with them for all of their lifestyle violations and all of the hurts that you had received from them, but there’s another reality in the fact that there is we will all appear and, all that we have done, we will stand accountable for before a God that is holy.

That also brings me to good news that God Who is holy has so loved sinners like us and sinners like this woman, that He has given His Son to die for our sins on the cross. And, when you come to Christ, you can be forgiven of all of your trespasses.

I love it in Colossians when it says, “He has canceled out the certificate of debt we owe to the holiness of God by bringing the judgement of our sins upon Christ on the cross.” And then it says, “Thus, we are forgiven of all of our sins.”

I have a question: what will they say about you? Will there be a desire to get even or will there be a desire to tell people, “My dad, my mom, my husband, my wife, was certainly not perfect — they were a sinner saved by grace — but, let me tell you, they were not only saved, but they were changed and through them, I experienced the power of God’s grace upon them, in them and through them.” That’s the obituary we want.

COMING UP TOMORROW: AMERICANS HAVE NEWS FATIGUE?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to a Pew Research report that almost 7 in 10 Americans have news fatigue.

DR. REEDER: What is that statistic telling us about news and the American people?

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

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

 

Unreal — Medical how-to book for counseling ‘religious’ women that abortion is okay

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MEDICAL SCHOOL NOW TEACHING HOW TO COUNSEL CHRISTIAN WOMEN THAT ABORTION IS OKAY

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you to an article out of The College Fix. The University of California-San Francisco has come out with a training book for medical students which teaches them counseling techniques on how to talk to religious women about abortion, especially if they believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is an act of murder.

DR. REEDER: We are being told that all we do in the medical school is teach our students how to do good medicine and, by the way, good medicine includes abortion. Well, the jagged edges of that statement are overwhelming.

What do they do when you’ve got people who look at that and say, “You know, it’s not good medicine to kill a baby in the womb. We’re calling that murder”? Do they listen and enter into the debate in terms of is abortion good medicine or not?

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They are fully embracing a world and life view that promotes the death spiral of removing any living being in the womb that is unwanted or inconvenient and they do so under the guise that there are therapeutic abortions because of health reasons. As that exists, at most, is less than 1 percent of the abortions so how do you promote the other 99 percent, which is, “This child is inconvenient and unwanted so I’m going to kill it”?

THIS IS A NEW TACTIC, BUT SAME RESULT

Well, instead of debating whether you should do that or not and entering into that debate, they are now not simply going to teach medical students their trade of medicine — even the horrific trade of how to do abortions — but they’re now going to teach them how to counsel the sensitivities of those who see the abortion as the wrongful taking of an innocent life.

Now they’ve moved to the tactics of the philosophy of medicine rooted in a secular world and life view which says that anything that’s in the way of my personal definition is happiness, you can remove that, as defenseless as it might be. Now the techniques of how to either assuage women who have these convictions or change their convictions is being taught to the medical students as they become evangelists of the abortion industry.

TRAINED TO POINT TO “CHRISTIAN SITES” 

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, it is interesting to note that this handbook recommends certain internet sites to refer women to. One of those sites is called “Faith Allowed.” It is rather stark, as they use Christian language to convince women to have abortions and that it’s alright.

They say they want every woman to feel confident and at peace with her decision to have an abortion. “We want every woman to feel supported. We believe that women are good, created in the image of God and able to make difficult decisions. We believe this power to make personal decisions is given to us by God.”

DR. REEDER: What is left out of that is that God gives us the information through divine revelation. “Not only have I made you in my image with the ability to make moral decisions, but here are the parameters of a moral decision.”

And one of the parameters is this: you shall not murder. And now the question is: is abortion murder or not? Well, let’s enter into the debate. Don’t try to give pablum language that assuages people — let’s enter into the debate.

THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW “MEDICAL” SECULAR EVANGELISM

Tom, it is very notable that, in this movement of teaching these students, it was acknowledged that we need to teach you to do that because there are some women who are “religious” who need to have their minds changed and need to be set at peace with the destruction of their child.

What is clearly being said is this: “We won the day in the public arena, but there’s this segment of our society that is ‘religious.’ Being religious, they have ethical dimensions — they believe that there’s some things right and some things wrong — and they actually believe that life begins at conception, which is scientifically verifiable, and they actually believe that life is sacred, which is a statement of divine revelation, and they actually believe that you shouldn’t take that life just because the life is inconvenient. Okay, what we’re going to do is not enter into the debate of their convictions, but we’re going to find a way to falsely assuage their convictions so that they will be talked into doing this.”

FALSE EVANGELISM YIELDS EMPTY PROMISES AND BROKEN WOMEN

Well, let me tell you what you’ve done. You may be successful with persuasive tactics to tell them, “It’s okay for you to kill this baby,” but I will promise you, deep down, because of what this website says — these images are made in the image of God — religious women obviously are aware of that, but the non-religious women, they are also aware of that.

Now, they may not be as sophisticated in their awareness of it as those who have been discipled, so every time you talk the person with convictions into doing it and even those that you’re doing it to, there is going to come a later date where they are going to have conviction, and shame, and guilt and fear and they’re going to have regret and remorse and you are the one that talked them into it.

CHRISTIANITY WILL BE THERE TO HEAL BUT THOSE “COUNSELORS” WILL NOT

Now let me tell you what we’re going to do when that happens. We’re going to reach into those women’s lives and we’re going to love them dearly — not that the decision was a right decision but tell them that there is a God Who loves you and that God will bring the forgiving power of Jesus Christ into your life, Who has paid for all of our sins and even those sins you can be aware of.

If you don’t believe that He can forgive you, we want to point you to three of the most prolific writers of the Bible: Moses, David and the apostle Paul. Paul was a religious terrorist who participated in the destruction of the lives of Christians, David was a conspirator to murder and Moses was guilty of manslaughter.

Our God’s grace and mercy cannot be stopped if  you come to Him and we will be at work in your life to show you, first of all, God’s redeeming grace in the life of your child and that there is every evidence in the Word of God that such children have been numbered with the elect and under the atoning work of Christ and, secondly, that God can give you not only forgiveness but renewal and, the area that you feel the most conviction of right now, He can turn into a great virtue in your life as you become one who affirms the sanctity of life and the power of God’s redeeming grace in every life.

That’s what we will do. What will the abortionists do? They don’t do anything for them. Later on, when the consequences of the act of abortion that you talked them into are there, I can assure you they will not be there to pick up the pieces in your life — but let me assure you that we are. We are there because Jesus is there.

However, what we want to do is to get into your life before you make that decision and tell you there are other decisions. You’re being told the decision is alright and, by the way, it’s really the only valid decision.

No, there are better decisions in the situation of an unwanted pregnancy or an unplanned pregnancy. There are families that are ready to adopt and there are people that are ready to help you.

There’s a couple of things that are evident, Tom. If you think that secular humanism is not a religious act, just look at its evangelism. They’re teaching tactics to evangelize you into the destruction of life. Secondly, if you think that, as a Christian, your convictions are not going to be challenged by the secular humanists of our age, now you’re warned.

KNOW REAL EVANGELISM SO THAT YOU CAN SPOT THE FAKE

Recently, Billy Graham went to be with the Lord and previous to that was Ruth Graham — what a godly lady. In one of the crusades in England, they had the opportunity to sit down at a banquet table with the political powerful. And Ruth is just a very upfront person and she’s talking to this guy that we would know as a “Minister of Finance”.

And they got to talking about the problem of counterfeiting because of the technology that was making it easier and she said, “Well, how in he world do you train your agents to spot something that’s counterfeit? There just seems to be so many variations — how can you possibly do that?” And he looked at her and he said, “Well, Madam, I don’t try to teach them all of the possible counterfeits; I just try to teach them what the real thing is and, when you know the real thing, then you can spot the counterfeit.”

That’s what we need to do in evangelism and discipleship: teach the real thing. Coming to Christ is our life so that the spirit of God empowers us, the Word of God frames us and the glory of God propels us because of the love of God that has laid hold of us in Christ our Lord.

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

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

How culture rot happens: Unthinkable –> Laughable –> Thinkable –> Accepted

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POP CULTURE EXPRESSION OF ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY  

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you to an article out of The Jewish Voice. The Museum of Pop Culture is looking to expand, adding a second location in New York City. The Museum of Pop Culture opened in Seattle nearly 20 years ago. 7,000 visitors come through this museum every year. Now they’re going to open a second site in New York City.

DR. REEDER: When you go to that museum, what are you going to see? There are certain spheres within a society that become almost the factory that produces pop culture as their product. What they are is somewhat obvious when you think your way through it, but what they can be may not be as obvious and that’s what, ultimately, I’d like to get to today.

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In pop culture right now, it’s basically shaped by the music industry, the entertainment industry in its various aspects, from the products of cinematography, the YouTube industry, commercials in the media, novels that are read, television industry and the cablevision — and all of that contributes to the culture.

AIM IS TO SEEP INTO EVERYDAY CULTURE

They all have an impact, but when we talk about culture, what are we talking about? Culture is how society does business. Pop culture is how the society functions and what it expects within the popular spheres of life — the public spaces of life. For instance, right now — we talked about this yesterday — there is language in the workplace that would have been unthought of 50 years ago, thus you have the rising of a #metoo movement, which inevitably will come when the pop culture has created that environment that people are then being violated by what supposedly is acceptable, yet ultimately is destructive.

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Well, Harry, speaking of 50 years ago, CBS News recently reported it was 50 years ago in 1968 when the Broadway play, “Hair,” took root in pop culture. Unfortunately, I’ve got to report that that was probably the first time in Broadway where all the people on stage decided to take their clothes off. Is pop culture a reflection of our culture or is it dictating to the culture what our standards ought to be?

POP CULTURE “IDEAS” ARE NOT ACCIDENTAL

DR. REEDER: I think the pop culture is the product that these various industries — the entertainment sphere, the academic world, all of that — is beginning to operate a certain way to produce a sense of, “This is what we think the environment ought to be.” Some of it has hooks and hangs on and some of it disappears, but all of it has an ultimate impact.

The spheres of influence, unless they are impacted, influenced, retarded and restrained by the grace of God coming through the people of God and the power of the Spirit of God, will always take a culture into a death spiral in which it makes the unthinkable thinkable, and then the thinkable becomes acceptable and the acceptable becomes doable.

You get a sitcom that gets you to laugh that homosexuality is a merely harmless event and you’re laughing at it and if it becomes laughable, then it becomes thinkable, now it becomes acceptable, and once it becomes acceptable, then it becomes doable, and once it becomes doable, it becomes part of the culture. Once you begin to say it enough in a song, in a novel, in a movie, in a broadcast, on television, then it becomes mainstreamed into the culture.

You’re exactly right: once it gets into the culture, it doesn’t come in static; it continues to move in a downward spiral. The only hope is the influence of God’s grace that would restrain it and retard it by behavior that is both appealing yet confrontational.

“Oh, here is a family that has both order and ardor, has both ethical parameters and yet passion in relationships and compassion in relationships,” and that’s seen in the family, and that impacts a neighborhood and that impacts a city. And where should that be coming from? That ought to be coming from the Gospel ministry as the Gospel ministry presents the redeeming grace of God that transforms sinners and, once you’re transformed in your relationship to God, you begin to be transformed in your life — salt and light.

If the salt is salty, it doesn’t take much for it to affect the environment. If I speak of the contributors to pop culture being media, academia — being the entertainment industry, political industry — if I keep saying that, everybody will agree with that, but what they won’t think of, the most powerful influence upon pop culture can be the church of Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH & CULTURE

However, the church will not — now, listen, Tom, this is important — the church will not impact the culture if it makes its mission to impact the culture. The church has to make its mission and its message to impact people with the Gospel, taking the Gospel to evangelize and disciple. And, as people get right with God and God works right within them, then their life changes and they become light in the culture and light dispels darkness, and they become salt and salt purifies, penetrates and preserves.

And so, it becomes a consequence of cultural blessing when Gospel transformation takes place so the church needs to see itself, not on a mission of cultural transformation, but as an instrument of cultural transformation as it fulfills its mission of Gospel evangelism and discipleship.

CHANGE THE PEOPLE, CHANGE THE CULTURE

I’m hoping I’m saying that clearly and plainly because, while we want the church to impact the culture, that cannot become the mission of the church — the mission of the church has got to be the Gospel mission and the Gospel message in the lives of individuals. And, when they change, their life makes an impact first in their family, in their church, in their community and in their workplace.

A LITTLE BIT OF TRUTH CAN GO A LONG WAY

Think of salt. My wife makes this corn on the cob; it’s unbelievable and I know what makes it unbelievable: butter and salt. However, it doesn’t take that much salt and it doesn’t take that much butter for a large ear of corn to be transformed. It doesn’t take that much salt to transform an entire pot of green beans if the salt is salty.

And, by the way, when it happens, notice that I don’t go up to my wife after the dinner and say, “Honey, that was the best butter and salt I’ve ever had in my life.” No, I say, “That’s the best corn on the cob I’ve ever had in my life.” But what made it so appealing and so attractive and what made it so tasty? What made it something that drew me to it in appreciation? It was that salt that was put upon it.

That’s the way the Christian is so let your speech be seasoned, is it were, in salt. Let your life by salty. Lift up the light and then, as the Gospel transforms your life, your life transformed will affect your family, your relationships at the workplace and all of that affects the pop culture.

I am not amazed at the downward spiral of our culture as expressed in pop culture because that’s the way it always goes because of the sin nature of humanity; what amazes me is the absence of the impact of common grace from God’s people and His church in the culture and that’s there because we have not engaged in the work of redeeming grace and evangelism and discipleship with a clear Gospel message and fulfill our Gospel mission, “Go and make disciples of all the nations.”

COMING UP TOMORROW: 50 YEARS SINCE RFK’S ASSASSINATION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on tomorrow’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to talk about another event that took place 50 years ago and that was the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

DR. REEDER: Tom, it’s interesting that you brought out a date, 1968, not only the production “Hair,” but that was a pivotal moment in pop culture. It also was the year of the assassination of Martin Luther King and it was the year of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, who, himself, becomes an example of movement in his life that reflects the culture and impacted the culture. Let’s take this up, even as we are in the very days that we remember that event of his assassination 50 years ago.

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

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

 

It’s inexcusable Clinton didn’t personally apologize to Lewinsky

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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you back about 20 years ago to a story involving Monica Lewinsky, a 22-year-old intern at the White House, and President Bill Clinton. We know that story, but it recently came up again in an interview by NBC reporter, Craig Melvin. He was interviewing James Patterson and Bill Clinton. They co-authored the new fictional novel, The President is Missing. During that interview, Melvin asked Clinton if he ever apologized to Lewinsky. Let me give you some of that dialogue.

“I apologized to everybody in the world,” Clinton said. “But did you apologize to her,” Melvin said. “I have not talked to her,” Clinton said. “Do you feel like you owe her an apology?” Melvin asked. “No, I do not,” Clinton responded. “I’ve never talked to her, but I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”  Clinton went on to somewhat victimize himself, saying that he left the White House $16 million in debt because of this event.

DR.REEDER: Craig Melvin, I thought that was a good example of journalism in terms of pressing an issue, asking the questions — that is the landscape that is littered by the acknowledged Clinton affairs all the way from his governorship in Arkansas and the relationship that Hillary Rodham Clinton had in the enablement and cover-up of those affairs.

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OUR CULTURE HAS GONE OFF THE EDGE

However, I think it does surface a number of things. Right now, within our culture, that interview and the public dialogue is revealing the angst and the chaos that the secular world and life view is producing as it now has risen to transcendency in the culture. Consenting adults can engage in anything that they want to, which has created environments in workplaces in which language is out of control and innuendo has now direct conversation, yet people feel violated when physical actions and verbal statements are being made that are assumptive or that are aggressive.

On the one hand, there is this, “Oh, look how free we are in our language. Look how free we are in our culture. Look at what we can talk about that used to make us blush and used to be off-limits. Now we can talk and say and engage in that kind of raucous — almost what we would have called “locker room” — behavior in the public square.” But there is still this sense of the dignity of the individual and the sanctity of such things as sexuality that people feel violated when you step over the top.

A second thing is this notion that men and women are interchangeable. No, they’re not interchangeable. Women do get offended by certain things, and rightly so, that men would not be offended by — in fact, men would make that a playground conversation and women see that as a violation of their personhood, rightly so, and expect men to have constraint in those areas. And yet we create a culture in the workplace that actually promotes those kind of relationships that are over the top, that are aggressive, that are assumptive and, I think, ultimately destructive.

Is there any place that this is more evident than what happened in the White House? I’ll never forget the moment when I found out about it. I turned on Ted Koppel Nightline and this story is breaking about the President of the United States, a man old enough to be the father of this intern. I’m sitting there at the table thinking, “I cannot even send my daughter into the Oval Office as an intern at 20 years of age with confidence that a president would restrain himself and respect her. I can’t have confidence as a father that would be a safe place for my daughter.”

DOES THIS SOUND LIKE TRUE REPENTANCE?

Then, when we hear President Clinton’s response to these questions, Tom, now that takes on even a different dynamic. What he then begins to respond is, basically, “I’m the victim. I was impeached. I was ridiculed. I was publicly mocked. I came out of the Oval Office and the presidency $16 million in debt.”

He’s presenting himself as a victim and that begins to compare to what is true repentance. First, it requires confession, which means you own the sin — that “I did it.” It’s not like Adam where, “The woman gave me the fruit and I ate,” but it’s, “I ate the fruit.”

Secondly, there is an acknowledgment, not only in the ownership of the commission of the sin, but the sinfulness of the sin. “And it pains me to know the effects of my acts in terms of who God is and in terms of the people who are suffering because of my sinful acts.” And it’s not a penance to be saved; it is just a reality of the sinfulness of sin.

CLINTON NEEDS TO REALIZE HIS RESPONSIBILITY

That leads to the third thing: You are concerned about those who are victims of your sin and you want to do restitution, and restoration and reconciliation. “What has this done to Monica Lewinsky?” is what he ought to be thinking about, not, “What has it done to me? I’m the victim of my own sin.”

There are consequences in our life when we sin, but our focus is on that we have sinned against God and we have sinned against others and the glorious truth that, if I confess my sins and put my trust in Christ, I can be forgiven, and I can also be empowered to move into people’s lives to ask them to forgive me.

And, therefore, it is inexcusable that the president would not come to Monica Lewinsky to apologize. Yes, he would do the broad PR apology that eventually he did on a television program, but if there is a true conviction of sin, you move into the person’s life to ask them to forgive you for what you did against them and the consequences it has had in their life.

Therefore, that’s what we’re wrestling with. We’ve got a pop culture that is promoting sin as normal, that is promoting anarchy — every man does what’s right in his own eyes — but, over here, we’re experiencing the effect of it in the culture and the #metoo movement is a perfect example.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE SHOULD BE DIFFERENT

May I just conclude this way: I believe that this is a great opportunity, not only for us to exhibit true repentance whenever it is required in our life because of the freeing offer of the Gospel of forgiveness and the empowerment to walk away from sin and to kill sin in our life and be restored so that our vices can actually become virtues for the glory of God as he transforms us, but the second thing is this: Christian men and women can move into the public square and create businesses and environments that are different.

Not only the carefulness of who you are with at lunch and all of those things that we’ve talked about in fleeing temptation, but more than that. The positive — the workplace in our community, the workplace in our business, we are going to treat each other with respect. We’re going to recognize our gender, male and female, the particular strengths of each gender, the particular responsibilities of each gender to the other, and then we are going to enter into that with the equality of our inalienable rights before God and that God does His saving work in the lives of men, male and female.

However, we also recognize by creation we are different and that we have different responsibilities, and we’re going to show two things: We’re going to show respect and we’re going to show restraint.

We are not people who are just going to just say what we want to say and create this off-color blue environment in the culture and we’re not going to do what we want to do in order to create an environment of raucousness and vulgarity. What we’re going to do is bring respect and restraint and that will be expected within the culture of this public square where we have responsibilities as Christians.

And dare I say that begins in our families. We begin to set the pace. Young men and young women growing up in homes get the idea of how do you treat someone of the opposite sex? By watching how a father treats his wife and how a mother treats her husband. And what ought to come out of that is men ought to set the environment of respect, restraint and affection. Women set the environment of order and decorum. They bring those dynamics into an environment, whether it’s the family, the community, the church or the home. Those are just some thoughts around what that interview spawned, Tom.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Well, we do invite our listeners to join us tomorrow as we deal with pop culture.

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

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