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Pastor Harry Reeder: Some evangelicals disagree, but here’s why it’s good to emphasize church celebrations during Christmas


 

 

 

 

 

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ISIS violence

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to cover a story today dealing with an attack that took place over our Thanksgiving Day weekend. Militants attacked a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing over 300 people, including 27 children. Another 128 suffered injuries.

DR. REEDER: Now wait just a minute. Did you just say that Muslims attacked Muslims? Well, the answer to that is “yes” and “no.”

What’s really been interesting is you have seen the movement of ISIS. ISIS as a caliphate movement sought to be faithful to all of the injunctions of the Koran’s call to put the world under Sharia Law. Therefore, they would take a Holy War not only against Christians and Jews and secularists, but they would also bring their Holy War upon Muslim heretics.

But there is no offshoot of Islam that is more despised than the Sufi heretical movement from their perspective – they would call it a heresy. One of the reasons is because they have something akin to saints and sainthood and people that they would speak to – either to speak to Allah they would speak through these people and therefore any intercessory work that you do speak to anyone other than Allah in your prayers is considered a rank heresy.

That and a number of other things. So the Sufi branch of Islam is not considered within the boundaries of Islam is considered a cult of the cult and therefore they are targets of the caliphate movement as well.

So now we see Muslims upon Muslims but then again, if you ask an ISIS Muslim, the ISIS warrior, they would say, “No, this is not a valid Islamic expression, therefore, we are not bringing war against Muslims but upon Muslim heretics is what we’re doing.”

Therefore, we have this horrendous act of these gunmen surrounding during the worship services taking place in the Sufi mosque producing this genocidal slaughter of human beings that took place in Egypt. Of course, Egypt itself is under the attack of the ISIS caliphate, as well.

Interestingly, Tom, it happens in a Sufi mosque in what is called the Sinai, which is, of course, the very region where the Israelites existed for 40 years as the Lord was disciplining them to bring them into the Promised Land under Joshua.

But for 40 years having been delivered from Egypt, they wandered in that very area where this atrocity took place. They wandered where the Lord sustained them from marauding nations and supplied for them the manna from heaven and prepared them to cross over the river Jordan under Joshua to give them the Promised Land.

Advent season

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me switch gears. Today is December the 1st. I don’t know where 2017 went – it flew by – but here we are in the final month. We’re in the Advent Season. Let’s switch gears from the news of the day to look at the Good News of the coming of Jesus Christ in the Advent.

DR. REEDER: Yes, a glorious message of the unique Gospel of saving grace in Jesus Christ. Not a man-made religion whereby what do we do thinking that we can be right with God. But the glorious good news that those who are not right with God, cannot be right with God because of our sin, and are incapable in a man-made religion to be right with God that God has done what we could not do.

And when there was no way God has made the way and that way is His Son Jesus who is The Way, the Truth and the Life and we celebrate His birth into this world. We celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 1:15 that this “is a trustworthy statement serving full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Praise the Lord that He came into the world in order to go to the cross to pay for our sins and then He is risen in victory, He is ascended, He now intercedes for us and is coming again to bring His people to Himself and to a new Heavens and a new Earth. Oh, the glorious, wonderful Gospel of Saving Grace in Jesus Christ.

Briarwood Christmas events in Birmingham

Well, Tom, I know, at Briarwood, we have a wonderful time to celebrate this season because of two things: 1) By focusing on the birth of Christ we get an opportunity to focus on the gospel in a very succinct way.

God’s purposes and God’s plan were seen in the person of Jesus as the Son of God humbled himself, not by subtracting His deity but by adding humanity to come into this world. Since by a man came death. 2) Adam, now a man, the second Adam, Jesus the Messiah, by Him comes the resurrection of the dead, comes life itself. So that’s what we get to celebrate.

I know, even as you and I speak, we’re on the verge of one of our first events – the Angel Tree Carnival. We do Samaritan’s Purse ministry, packing the shoe boxes to send all over the world. And we also do Angel Tree, in which we pack boxes and take them to the children of prisoners and minister to them.

The next week is the big walk-through nativity, 14 scenes of the birth, the life of Jesus, His death, and His resurrection. Then our Briarwood ballet, Sunday on December the 10th, “Glory to the Newborn King.”

And then, the most unbelievable, phenomenal choral symphonic concert, phenomenal choir and it is so exciting. We’ll be doing that on December 17th. Break forth into singing – the Lord has come and we join the angels in singing to the Glory of God. You just do not want to miss that.

Our wonderful Christmas Eve services, we have a 5:00 family candlelight festival, 7:00 family candlelight festival – we just can’t get everybody into the 5:00. We conclude our Advent celebrations with the Christmas Eve communion service that Sunday night on December the 24th.

We love this time because it’s not only a chance to focus all the texts of Scripture why Jesus came into the world, but it also allows us to bring our friends and invite our friends to come and enjoy these marvelous celebrations and hear the glorious truth that Jesus Christ, who is no friend to sin, is a friend to sinners because He has come to save us from our sins.

Should evangelicals downplay seasonal celebrations?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, there are some in the Evangelical Christian circles who want to downplay these certain celebrations. The thought is every Sunday ought to be the same celebration as it would be around Christmas and Easter. Is it proper that we magnify and celebrate this season?

DR. REEDER: Well, you know, in the Old Testament you had certain feast days and what happened in the New Testament, in the New Covenant and in the early church by the apostolic leaders and then those that they disciple was kind of a development of a non-conscience binding.

In other words, these are not things that we would bind any church to do, but it’s good to have feasts, it’s good to call for fast, and it’s good to have feasting times. And so the early church – kind of as a reflection of the Old Testament, three great feasts of the Old Testament – the early church also had its three feasts around the celebrations of the birth of Jesus in the Advent season, the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus during the Easter season, and then the celebrations of the outpouring of the Spirit of God at Pentecost. And so, mirroring the Old Testament feasts were these feasts.

I would totally agree that’s one of the things I love about Briarwood and meeting with our team that plans the worship – every Sunday is Easter and every Sunday is Christmas as far as we’re concerned.

This doesn’t mean that we love the Lord more during these feasts, it’s just a season of focus that in the culture gives us a bridge to talk to people about the Lord that we don’t always have. It’s a ready opportunity for us to tell them. As one person said, Jesus is the reason for the season and we would like to tell you about Him. So on the one hand, I would agree with my friends.

There is nothing in the Bible that should bind anyone’s conscience to the celebration of an Advent season. We celebrate the coming, death, and resurrection of Jesus every Lord’s Day and each and every day of life.

But there’s also nothing that prevents us from having seasons that we embrace as an opportunity to focus on one theological dynamic of the life of Jesus that opens up an opportunity to declare the majesty of the Gospel of Grace and it provides a bridge for us into the world to invite people to hear of the Savior we tell them about each and every day.

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.

2 hours ago

A second former Prattville police officer sentenced for theft

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Friday announced that former Prattville police officer John Wayne McDaniel Jr. has been sentenced for conspiracy to commit burglary, third-degree theft, second-degree theft of prescription medicine and criminal impersonation of a police officer.

McDaniel was sentenced in Autauga County Circuit Court to ten years for each count, with the sentences being split for him to serve three years in community corrections rather than prison. The sentences will run concurrently.

“It is always serious and a sad betrayal of the public’s trust when a law enforcement officer breaks the law he has sworn to uphold,” said Marshall.

He continued, “In this case, the court considered that McDaniel acknowledged his wrongdoing, cooperated in the investigation, and assisted with information for the prosecution of others in related crimes. His sentence takes this into account, yet imposes strong controls to invoke his prison sentence if he fails to abide by the strict standards of the community corrections program.”

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In the community corrections program, defendants may serve their time outside of prison or jail but are held to stringent conditions and supervision, and upon any failure to comply are subject to immediately being sent to jail or prison.

McDaniel’s cooperation was an integral factor in the successful prosecution of another former Prattville police officer, Leon Todd Townson, who was sentenced on Monday to serve ten years in prison for first-degree insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and and three years for third-degree burglary. Townson’s sentences run concurrently.

McDaniel and Townson were both originally charged with breaking into a home in 2015, and Townson was also charged in 2017 with defrauding an insurance agency by filing a claim worth $190,000 using false information.

Marshall commended Assistant Attorney General John Kachelman of the office’s Criminal Trials Division for his exemplary work in bringing these cases to a successful conclusion. The Attorney General also applauded Special Agents of his Investigations Division and thanked the Prattville Police Department for their crucial role in the investigation and prosecution of the two cases.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

77-year-old identical twin sisters ‘serving up smiles’ at Alabama McDonald’s

A pair of 77-year-old identical twin sisters working at a Shelby County McDonald’s restaurant has customers saying, “I’m lovin’ it.”

Maryann Byrne and Alice Moore, the twins, are so popular that a customer called WBRC urging them to do a story about the sisters, who work at the location on Valleydale Road and the corner of Caldwell Mill Road.

Byrne and Moore do every task – from taking customers’ orders, to preparing food and pouring piping-hot cups of coffee – with genuine smiles that are contagious to co-workers and customers alike.

“Those two ladies are a breath of fresh air for all the people who come in here,” customer Rod Peeks told WBRC. “They’re just amazing.”

The sisters say it all comes down to them loving to serve others and caring about the people they interact with.

“The customers are gorgeous, they really are,” said Byrne. “They’re like your family members.”

“We like to make people happy. We like to please people. God made them and we need to please them,” added Moore.

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The story gets even better. The sisters get to work with another family member, as Moore’s daughter is the general manager of the restaurant.

“They’re my superstars and I love them to pieces. Please come in and see them,” Barbara Gibbs said about her mom and aunt.

Byrne calls her sister “the twin queen,” because Moore has a set of twins and her daughter Maria, the manager, gave birth to twin boys.

Watch the entire story below:

WBRC FOX6 News – Birmingham, AL

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Jefferson State Community College gets grant to improve biomedical training program

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded Jefferson State Community College $220,817 to upgrade a program that trains students for jobs in the medical industry.

The grant, provided to the state by the Appalachian Regional Commission, will be used to purchase equipment, furniture and supplies to upgrade classroom and laboratory space for the college’s biomedical training program. The program trains students as biomedical equipment technicians in both manufacturing and healthcare.

“My administration has championed job growth in Alabama, and programs like this ensure that our workforce is trained and ready for those jobs,” Ivey said in a press release. “I am pleased that this ARC funding is helping to provide better opportunities for Alabama workers.”

Thirty-seven Alabama counties are members of the Appalachian Regional Commission and eligible for grant funds.

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4 hours ago

Congratulations to all of Alabama’s Congressional delegation on their re-elections

[WRITER’S NOTE: Before I get started, let me just short-circuit 90 percent of the response to what I am about to say is going to get: No, fivethirtyeight.com was not totally wrong about the presidential election. They said Hillary Clinton was going to win the popular vote, and she did.

If you are an elected Congressman from Alabama, you are good to go in November, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The least likely winner is Congresswoman Martha Roby, who is still expected to brutalize her opponent.

This should surprise absolutely no one. Alabama is still a red state. The only blue district in the state is a gerrymandered mess that includes Birmingham and Montgomery, so Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) didn’t even draw an opponent.

The bigger story from fivethirtyeight.com is that their analysis shows two things:

1. Republicans are projected to lose, but it’s not impossible (this is better than the chance they gave Trump)

2. There are far more Solid D (188) seats than Solid R (146) seats, that means more seats for Republicans to defend, and that means less money for each one.

This could be a tough year for Republicans, but all is not lost yet.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show  from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

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5 hours ago

See where Alabama schools rank in Princeton Review’s list of best colleges

The Princeton Review has released their trademark list of the “Best 384 Colleges” for 2019 and three Alabama schools made the cut.

To compile their latest edition, which is the 27th annual, the Princeton Review interviewed 138,000 students and examined the relevant data on the nation’s colleges.

See which Alabama institutions are on the list, and why, below:

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(Note that the following sub-rankings are only done for top 20 schools in each category)

Auburn University

Best Athletic Facilities – #2
Future Rotarians and DAR – #14
Happiest Students – #19
Students Pack the Stadiums – #5
Their Students Love These Colleges – #18
Town-Gown Relations are Great – #7

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 75

Read more about Auburn’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama

Best Athletic Facilities – #1
Best College Dorms – #13
Best-Run Colleges – #11
Lots of Greek Life – #5
Most Active Student Governments – #8

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 77

Read more about UA’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

UAB’s post-graduate programs really push it over the top as a premier high-education institution.

The Princeton Review highlighted UAB by saying, “At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, professors and administrators ‘care about you.'” They also boast a relatively low student-to-faculty ratio.

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 67

Read more about UAB’s inclusion here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn