Sorry and all, but yes there is a Heaven and Hell


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POPE ACCUSED OF MISLEADING STATEMENTS ABOUT HELL

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, a number of media outlets covered this story. We’re taking it from CNS News, Pope Francis saying there is no hell. Recently, Pope Francis had an interview with his long-time atheist friend, Eugenio Scalfari. In this interview, Scalfari asked, “Your Holiness, in our previous meeting, you told me that our species will disappear at a certain moment and that God, out of His creative force, will create new species. You have never spoken to me about the souls who die in sin and go to Hell to suffer for eternity.” Pope Francis replied, “They are not punished. Those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of those souls who contemplate Him, but those who do not repent and cannot, therefore, be forgiven, disappear. There is no Hell. There is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

DR. REEDER: Tom, we need to say that the Vatican — not the Pope — put out the disclaimer that the exact words were not completely accurate. What didn’t come was a “Hey, that was erroneous. The Pope affirms the historic doctrine of Heaven and Hell, the eternal condemnation of the lost in their rebellion against God and the eternal joy of those who know Him through the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ. There was no reclamation of the historic doctrine.

We’re not going to speak to the erroneous doctrine of Purgatory. We’re going to only deal with the issue of the eternality of Heaven and Hell and the reality that there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to lose and the only way you gain that Heaven and the only way you can lose that Hell — since we’re all born sinners and under the judgement of God — is through the atoning work of Christ, who has come into this world because of the love of God to save sinners.

HEAVEN IS A FREE GIFT FROM GOD IF WE ACCEPT IT

And God’s love for us is unmerited and unwanted, but it’s not, in the ultimate sense, unconditional in that God’s love for us had to meet certain conditions and that is the eradication of our sin, but God’s love for us is so glorious He didn’t tell us that we had to eradicate the consequences of our sin — His Son came and His Son eradicated the consequences of our sin by His atoning death on the cross. And He eradicates the power of sin because, by His Spirit, we are born again so we not only get a new record with our sins removed from us as far as the east is from the west through Christ’s atoning work and the righteousness of Christ that is given to us so that our sins that were credited to Him and He paid for them now are replaced by His righteousness that is credited to us.

Therefore, we’re not only forgiven and pardoned, we are accepted and declared innocent through the righteousness of Christ and then, by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are born again and we’re given a new heart so that not only is the penalty of sin eradicated, but we are emancipated from the power of sin. We get a new life in which we increasingly walk away from the practice of sin into the newness of obedience to Christ and then, one day, we will have the absence of the presence of sin or even the ability to sin in the glories of a new heaven and new earth.

And, Mr. Pope, with all due respect, Heaven is not an ethereal existence of contemplating God. The Bible is very clear that there is much activity in Heaven — we are not sitting in a corner in an eternal contemplative mode. There’s a new heavens, and there’s a new earth, and there’s activity, and there is serving the Lord but there will be no curse of sin and there will be no ability to sin. There will be no consequences of sin: no pain, no death. The former things have passed away.

Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new.” On that day, with a new body that He gives to us, He will bring us not into a refurbished heaven and earth, but a transformed heaven and earth. The new heavens and the new earth and the glories of not simply contemplating Him, but learning from Him, enjoying Him, and not only enjoying Him, but the unbroken fellowship with those made in His image into a relationship that is glorious and beyond our comprehension but will not be beyond our occupation for all eternity.

And what about his remarks on Hell? Pope Francis has now embraced, to some degree, the historically condemned doctrine of annihilation — that, at death, the unbeliever, the impenitent, do not come under the judgement of God for all eternity, but are basically dismissed from existence into oblivion of non-existence.

I have no idea what he means by the creative power of God creating new species. The Bible is very clear that God has finished creation. Six days He created and then He rested from creation. The Bible is very clear that the doctrine of Hell is the conscious punishment of the impenitent in their cosmic treason and rebellion against God for all eternity.

Tom, what in the world was Jesus doing on the cross? What was that agony of the soul in “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” What is all that that becomes meaningless gibberish if there is no Hell to shun. So, the Pope, in one simple statement of complex consequences, has dismissed the historic Apostle’s Creed, has dismissed the Biblical doctrine of Hell.

CHRIST SPOKE AND TAUGHT MUCH OF HELL

And, to the Pope, I would simply say, “You are to be the Vicar of Christ. Who is it that gave us the most information about Hell and conscious torment in all of eternity, even using the metaphors of the blackness of full isolation and the torment of fire?” Over two-thirds of the information about Hell comes directly from the mouth of Jesus, the one who would bear the Hell that was due to His people for their sins on the cross.

Two-thirds of it is given to us and the warning of what it means to come under the judgement of God and eternal condemnation and that God will hurl them into the lake of fire that is the conscious torment of the lost for all eternity. There will weeping and gnashing of teeth. That does not sound like oblivion to me — that sounds like torment. That is something that propels me to tell people to come to Jesus.

CONFUSION AND LACK OF TEACHING ON HELL CAUSES MORE SIN

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me go back to Pope Benedict XVI, who just in 2007 said, “Jesus came to tell us that He wants us all in Heaven and that Hell, of which so little is said in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to His love.”

Harry, there’s obviously a paradigm shift that’s taking place here. Is the new attitude toward Hell going to create a callousness and a laissez-faire attitude toward sin?

DR. REEDER: And toward God, Himself. We contemplated doing a program on the blasphemy that Stephen Colbert did during Holy Week against the majesty of God and the holiness of God and then, right within the Roman Catholic church, again, this professor at Holy Cross who blasphemes Christ by trying to turn Him into a transgender androgynous existing entity.

However, the reason that people in the culture feel free to do those things and there is no restraint upon how you refer to God and how you would speak about Him, is because the church of Jesus Christ has declared itself more spiritual than Jesus in that we will not speak of the sinfulness of sin and we will not speak of the consequence of sin.

When was the last time that you heard a sermon on the Biblical doctrine of Hell? Jesus gave a number of those sermons. You go find a revival in which the doctrine of sin and the doctrine of Hell was not prominent in the preaching of God’s Word, which then set up the preeminence of the doctrines of grace to save us from our sin, and the Savior who bore our Hell and who desires us to be with Him in a new heavens and a new earth. Jesus bore the penalty of those sins, our hell, and in Jesus you can have eternal life.

Just as Hell is real, so is the new heavens and the new earth. “Where I am, there you will be with Me always.”

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.

1 hour ago

National leader in water resources to head Alabama Water Institute

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Scott Rayder, an expert on building opportunities and funding for scientific organizations, was selected as the executive director of the Alabama Water Institute for The University of Alabama.

Water is a signature research and academic focus at UA, and AWI was formed to conduct integrated research and education on complex issues of water quantity, quality and security globally and locally.

“The University of Alabama strategically focused on water as a signature research thrust not only because of the profound importance of water in all facets of life, but also because we believe the University is ideally positioned to become a national and influential leader in the discipline. I believe Scott has both the vision and ability to work with faculty and students to make this happen,” said President Stuart Bell.

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The executive director position and AWI are vital to UA’s plan to increase research productivity and innovation in research, scholarship and creative activities that impact economic and societal development. Rayder will play a key role in continuing collaboration with the National Water Center, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration center located on the UA campus.

Currently senior advisor to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and to the president and vice president of the UCAR Foundation, Rayder will join UA Aug. 1.

He has extensive experience in building relationships and opportunities with both the private and public sector, including longstanding relationships with federal funding agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, NOAA, U.S. Geological Survey and National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“The University of Alabama has the unique opportunity, working with federal, state and industry partners, to propel the state of Alabama to become the epicenter for water research, water resource management and the new water economy in the United States. Scott is well-known both nationally and internationally and is the ideal leader to take full advantage of this opportunity,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, vice president for research and economic development.

Rayder’s involvement with higher education and research extends to the beginning of his career at NOAA, and includes nearly two decades of experience in senior leadership positions in large government, not-for-profit and private sector companies.

“I am honored to be joining the dedicated AWI team. UA science, policy and engineering expertise is uniquely positioned to help improve our understanding and application of the latest science and technology in support of critical water issues that affect everyone across the globe to citizens right here in Alabama,” Rayder said. “I look forward to engaging with the faculty, public and private stakeholders, philanthropists and future Alabama graduates in growing this capability here at the University.”

His work at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in support of the National Center for Atmospheric Research as well as at the Center for Ocean Leadership included working with research universities and private sector partners in the pursuit of funding to better understand and utilize the world’s resources.

He was also part of the presidential transition team in 2016 for the U. S. Department of Commerce, which oversees NOAA.

Rayder holds a bachelor’s degree in government and geology from Hamilton College, New York, and a master’s in public administration with a concentration in science and technology policy from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

The committee for this national search was co-led by Dr. Mark Elliott, associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, and Dr. Behzad Mortazavi, professor and chair of biological sciences. Dr. Patricia Sobecky, UA’s associate provost for academic affairs, professor of biological sciences and founding executive director of AWI, was also integral to the search process.

“We are grateful to Dr. Sobecky for her dedication in standing up the Alabama Water Institute as founding executive director,” Mumper said. “Her leadership created an excellent foundation for transformative research and economic development relating to water.”

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama)

2 hours ago

Anniston’s 44-year-old Book Rack saved from closing by new owners

The Book Rack, an Anniston institution that was set to close after almost 45 years, opened a new chapter July 1 as “Jo’s Book Rack.”

Patricia Hancock bought the store five years ago as part of a lifelong dream she finally fulfilled in retirement. Now that Hancock is retiring again, she is “jumping for joy” that she didn’t have to close the Quintard Avenue store that has more than 70,000 books.

The Book Rack grew popular selling used paperbacks at half-price, while giving 25% of the cover price back in credit to people who brought in good-condition books.

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Brittany Boozer shopped at The Book Rack as a teenager but thought it went out of business years ago. Then her husband, Jonathan, emailed her a notice that the store was for sale.

“I thought it was a joke because I love books so much,” she said. “When I realized it was true, I said, ‘Hey, can we do this?’”

Married 10 years and having never owned a business, the Boozers decided to give it a shot. They are renaming the store “Jo’s Book Rack,” in part after her grandfather who died in 2016, and for their daughters, Jorden, 5, and Journey, 18 months. Jonathan already works full-time but will help his wife at the bookstore when he’s able.

“My grandfather was an avid reader and instilled it in me as a child,” she said. “I wanted to honor him and our girls, who I hope will love books as much as I do.”

Hancock posted on The Book Rack website “It’s time to celebrate!” as she turned the keys over to the Boozers. She said that when she was in her early 30s she wanted to own a bookstore, but it didn’t happen for 40 years. Hancock thanked her loyal customers and said she is excited “business will be conducted as usual” through the new owners.

Boozer admitted being “a little nervous” becoming a store owner in the midst of a pandemic that until recently had forced the closure of all “nonessential” businesses in Alabama and across most of the U.S. She is concerned by some print publications going out of business and that many young people read only online books.

“But I prefer to feel a book in my hands,” she said. “I know other people feel the same way.”

Boozer said there are “very busy” days ahead as she conducts a full inventory of the sales racks and books in storage. She hopes to soon begin online sales, will open a children’s section and will offer more hardbacks. Boozer may initiate sales of used hardbacks by sacrificing some of her huge collection from home.

“I want to make changes, but I want to keep some things the same to give old customers what they’ve come to expect the past almost 45 years,” she said. “At the same time, I want to offer things that will appeal to the younger generation.”

Boozer wants to sell books to parents who are homeschooling their children. She hopes to promote Jo’s Book Rack through sales of T-shirts, keychains and logo items. A new store sign will be installed atop the building, and there will be a new front window logo. Boozer intends to highlight new books and local authors.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to continue a landmark business in Calhoun County,” Boozer said. “I hope to keep the old customers and attract new ones.”

Contact Boozer at josbookrack@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/JosBookRack/.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Roby: Happy Independence Day

The Fourth of July is one of America’s most celebrated holidays each year, honoring the birth of American independence dating back to 1776. Americans gather from state to state to participate in beloved traditions such as fireworks, parades, barbecues, and many more. With all that is happening across the country right now, I hope that we each stop and reflect on the meaning of this special day.

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Our Founders had the incredible courage to risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to defy a king and conceive a new nation based on freedom, equality, and government empowered by the consent of the governed. As they declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Now more than ever, our nation craves unity during these unprecedented times throughout all our communities. As we navigate a global pandemic that continues to sweep across the United States, already tragically claiming more than 130,000 precious lives, my greatest hope is that we stand together as one united people.

May we be ever vigilant in making sure the United States always embodies the ideals in that bold declaration by our Founders. May God bless each of you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. From the Roby family to yours, we wish you a wonderful Fourth of July!

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

3 hours ago

Stay safe during July 4th holiday

Across the country, people enjoy lighting fireworks to celebrate our nation’s birthday each Fourth of July. While gathering in large groups to watch fireworks shows may not occur this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families and socially distant groups can still safely enjoy the holiday.

Follow these tips to stay safe while using fireworks:

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  • Check to make sure using fireworks is legal in your area.
  • Only buy legal fireworks labeled with the manufacturer’s name.
  • Make sure children use sparklers only outdoors and keep them away from their faces, hair and clothing. Sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Always use fireworks outdoors and have a bucket of water or water hose nearby and stay away from people in case of accidents from backfiring or shooting in an unintended direction.
  • When using fireworks, always point them away from houses, trees, cars, shrubbery and, especially, other people.
  • Do not hold fireworks while lighting them. Place them in an open container before lighting the fuse.
  • Light one firework at a time and never relight a “dud.”
  • Never allow children to pick up fireworks from the ground. Unexploded fireworks may still ignite.
  • Soak used or unignited fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them away.

Many families may spend Independence Day weekend at a lake or beach. Be aware of these additional precautions when you’re near the water.

Boating safety

  • Make sure your boat is in good working order before taking it out for the first time and that all required equipment is on the boat.
  • Make sure all life jackets are in good working order. Life jackets must be worn by children younger than 8 years old and by anyone on a personal watercraft or being towed on skis or a tube.
  • Be aware of what other boaters are doing around you.
  • Storms can come up quickly, especially in the summer, so keep an eye to the sky. If caught in a storm, try to get to the nearest shelter.

 Pool and water safety

  • Anywhere there is water, there is a danger of drowning. Never swim alone.
  • An adult must always watch children closely. This means no reading, talking on the phone or texting.
  • An adult should be within arm’s reach of infants, toddlers and weaker swimmers.
  • Enter shallow water feet first. It is never OK to dive into water less than 9 feet deep.

 Heat safety

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Limit the amount of time spent outside during these hours.
  • At least 20 minutes before going outside, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

ADFSR returns to its roots for 2020 rodeo

The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR), the largest saltwater tournament in the nation, will revert to its roots for the 87th rodeo, scheduled July 17-19 at the rodeo site on Dauphin Island.

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, the ADSFR will concentrate strictly on the great fishing along the Alabama Gulf Coast, which harkens back to the early days of the rodeo when a group of dedicated tarpon anglers assembled on Dauphin Island for the initial events.

As safety precautions, ADSFR 2020 President Cory Quint said the rodeo will not hold the Liars Contest on the Thursday night before the rodeo. Also, the sponsors’ tent and the fish viewing area will not be available for the 2020 rodeo. The music entertainment has also been dropped for this year. However, the Roy Martin Young Anglers Tournament set for July 11, 2020, will be held as planned.

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“First and foremost, we’re a fishing tournament at heart,” Quint said. “Everything else we do is what we call ‘the show,’ which means we make it family friendly and appealing to other people outside of anglers.”

Many people are not aware of how much work goes into hosting the ADSFR, which attracts more than 3,000 anglers to the small barrier island in south Mobile County. Quint said normal rodeo preparation for the next year’s event starts about a month after the rodeo has fired the cannon to signal the end to the event.

“We always try to improve some aspect of the rodeo each year by making it bigger and better,” Quint said. “In April, our mindset had to shift to how we make sure this rodeo will happen. We had all this social distancing. You had to wear a mask. You could only have groups of so many people. You had all this stuff. We worked with the Town of Dauphin Island, and they told us they were okay with us fishing, having a weigh-in and selling T-shirts. They did not want us to give anybody a reason to congregate. As much as I hate it, we had to cut out the Liars’ Contest. We had big plans to honor Mike Thompson (a multiple Liars’ Contest winner who died unexpectedly several months ago). I’ve known Mike (Captain T-Bone to the rodeo crowd) just about my whole life through my mom and dad (Jimmy and Terri Quint). I really wanted to do that personally. But, we didn’t have a choice. We couldn’t do the music. We couldn’t do the sponsors’ tent, which is about 60 percent of our sponsors. We are kind of going back to our roots as a fishing tournament. But I don’t want people to be confused about our rodeo site. It is still open. If you want to come see somebody weigh in, look at the boats or watch a sunset, you can still do that. We just can’t give people a reason to congregate. All we’re asking from the anglers is to be mindful of social distancing and be respectful of the Town of Dauphin Island. They really did do us a favor by allowing us to have the rodeo this year.”

Jeff Collier has been the Mayor of Dauphin Island for the past 22 years and knows what the rodeo means to Dauphin Island in terms of retail sales and rental income. With the exception of a couple of years during World War II, anglers have gathered on the island for fishing festivities.

“We’ve seen a lot of rodeos,” Mayor Collier said. “I was born and raised here, so I’ve seen most of the last 59 or so. That’s a lot of rodeos. This is going to be similar to some of the rodeos in the past. There’s going to be a little less activity, and we’ll be focusing on the fishing aspect of it, which is what the event was originally. Over the years, they added more events, but this year it will be back to that fishing tournament environment. We hate that for them. It would be nice to have the Liars’ Contest and the concerts, which had been well-received. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this year.

“The rodeo is such a historic event. This is the 87th rodeo. Any community would be happy to have them as part of the community. But, at the same time, we also commend them, because I think what they’re doing under these circumstances is the right and responsible thing to do.”

During a normal three-day rodeo, more than 75,000 people visit Dauphin Island for the fishing or the show. The absence of that traffic is definitely going to impact the businesses and rental properties.

“With this COVID situation, a lot of our small mom-and-pop businesses need all the help and support they can get,” Mayor Collier said. “The rodeo was one of those times they could benefit when the times were good. With a population of about 1,250 permanent residents on the island, you can see what bringing 75,000 people onto the island would have in terms of economic impact. It’s a big event. It covers as much as four days, so it has a big impact on our small community. But I do still think it will be a good event. People who do come down, we want them to act responsibly. We’re encouraging people to wear a face covering. We’re not requiring it, but we’re encouraging it. As we say, we want to be part of the solution not part of the problem.”

One change has been made in the ADSFR tournament categories. Rodeo anglers have 30 species of fish eligible to weigh in at the rodeo. However, red snapper is no longer on that list. The Alabama Marine Resources Division, which manages Alabama’s share of the red snapper quota in the Gulf of Mexico, announced this week that the last day of the 2020 season will be July 3 to ensure the quota is not exceeded. Red snapper has been replaced by lane snapper on the rodeo’s eligible fish list. Quint said that obviously also eliminates the Red Snapper Jackpot.

Mayor Collier was not shocked that the red snapper season had to be cut shorter than originally planned.

“With the coronavirus thing, people were itching to get outside,” he said. “There were a lot of boats out, and everybody I talked to had good catches. It doesn’t surprise me one bit.”

Visit www.adsfr.com for more information on the rules, categories and schedule for the 87th Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo.

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.