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Did you know these little known facts about Abe Lincoln?

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WHAT CAN LINCOLN’S CONVERSION TEACH TODAY’S CHRISTIANS?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, today, we celebrate the birthday of our 16th president. It was on this day, February 12, 209 years ago that Abraham Lincoln was born.   

DR. REEDER: Let me talk a little bit about Lincoln, what I believe is his conversion, its impact and why it affects the way you say the Pledge of Allegiance. Lincoln was known for his morality — growing up he was called “Honest Abe” and the stories abound that may or may not be true or accurate — but he was an unbeliever concerning Christianity in his early years.

LINCOLN WAS ORIGINALLY ANTAGONISTIC TO GOSPELS

He was a skeptic. He actually wrote a book that attacked the integrity of the Gospels — that they were not inerrant, that they were not trustworthy. In fact, when he ran for president, one of the things that his campaign manager did was try to get all of those books, get them out of circulation and burn them because they were a liability, but that’s where he was.

However, before he ran for president, his oldest son had a bout with typhoid fever and died. In the process of his son’s death, he was ministered to by a Pastor Smith, who was the old-school Presbyterian preacher at the Presbyterian church in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln was not converted. His wife professed faith in Christ. She started attending. Lincoln began to attend and, while Lincoln never joined the church or professed faith, he did start attending that church for a number of years, contributed to a building program and even purchased a family pew but, again, he was not converted.

He then ran for president and there was the obligatory mentioning of God in his first inaugural speech, but he was pretty much a pragmatic politician with some sensibilities in terms of morals but a pragmatic politician devoted to the saving of the union and ultimately addressing the chattel slavery issue in America. And then his response, of course, to the succession of the six cotton states and that then led to the Civil War.

HOW THE CIVIL WAR AFFECTED HIS FAITH

In the midst of the Civil War, itself, Lincoln began to deal with a number of issues but, also, in the providence of God, he began to deal with some interesting people. A Quaker woman from New York came to visit him the first months of his presidency. He gave her 15 minutes and, in his conversation, he was so impressed with her and then she prayed for him that, when she left, he told his administrative assistant, “Whenever this woman comes, give her free access to see me. I have met a Christian in which there is no guile.”

Later on, he begins to deal with this carnage and all of these deaths and so he starts to write something that was later finished in 1862 about the time of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Battle of Antietam at Sharpsburg. He entitled it “Meditations upon the Divine Will.” Why was God allowing and why was God inflicting this fratricidal war upon this nation? He came to a conclusion that is almost a verbatim identical quote that Robert E. Lee, in one of his journals, wrote as well: that both sides were covered up in sin and arrogance and the sins of the nation had to be dealt with until God had purged us as a nation.

In that comes the famous quote that would later be used by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and General George Marshall and then, later on, the famous quote is used by President George Bush the first. “The question in the war is not is God on our side, but are we on God’s side?”

LINCOLN’S FAMILY TRAGEDY

Then another significant event took place, Tom, and that was his son, Willie, whom he loved also got typhoid fever there at the White House and an African-American servant there at the White House, who was caring for the boy in his death struggle, would talk with President Lincoln almost incessantly about Christ, and how his son had trusted Christ and how he needed to trust Christ.

Now, in the midst of all of this, his pastor back in Springfield had recommended to him to attend the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. I’ve been in that church a number of times — there is the “Lincoln Pew” where he sat on Sunday mornings, but there is also the “Lincoln Chapel” that has the “Lincoln Sofa,” which was the chair that he would sit in on Wednesday nights and Sunday nights.

He didn’t sit out in the audience, lest it cause others to see him and would take away from the service and what was being done so he would sit over to the side and then he would discuss with Dr. Gurley the sermon and the issues of Christianity. Dr. Gurley, who preached the funeral of Abraham Lincoln after his assassination, records those discussions and Lincoln’s commitment to Christ. It all pretty much came to a head in 1863 and the result was the speech that he wrote, the Gettysburg Address, you’ll see the evangelical language in it — “regeneration,” a “new birth of freedom,” and he scratches in in his pencil editing “a nation ‘under God.’”

He then noted to Dr. Gurley and others that he desired that the nation formally adopt George Washington’s motto for the nation. George Washington had a motto for the United States that he wanted to have formally adopted and it was “In God We Trust.” He then told Dr. Gurley, after the next election, he wanted to be baptized. He didn’t want to do it before the election, lest it look like a political move. Then, after the inauguration, which was in March of 1865, and then he said, “Well, let’s just do it after Easter,” and then, of course, he is assassinated that Easter and is never baptized but Dr. Gurley gives all of the accounts of this.

GOD’S WORK REVEALED IN HIS SPEECHES

If you want to see the spiritual odyssey and God’s converting work in President Lincoln’s life, read his first inaugural speech, read “Meditations upon the Divine Will,” read the Gettysburg Address and then read what I believe is the second greatest presidential speech ever made and that is his second inaugural address. Read those and you can see the very work of God’s grace in his life.

What is not recorded are his lengthy discussions he had with Dr. Gurley about how to readmit the southern states, how to deal with slavery that eventually led to his proposals that eventually led to the 14th Amendment.

At New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, in 1953, there was a sermon recounting what I just said and much more concerning Lincoln’s conversion and what happened to him in his life and his desire that we be a nation under God — Gettysburg Address quote — and that we adopt “In God We Trust.”

WHERE ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ CAME FROM

Two congressmen are sitting at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. They then go back and introduce two bills. One bill is that we make “In God We Trust” our motto and place it upon our coinage, which is why you see that on our money today, “In God We Trust.” Secondly, they then introduce the bill that “under God” be placed in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge of Allegiance was a secular statist creed wrapped in nationalism but then they added the phrase “under God.” Have you ever noticed that, if you look at the Pledge of Allegiance, it should be said this way, “I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the government for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible?”

In other words, there’s no comma, yet just today, I led in prayer for our county commissioner and they did the pledge after I prayed, “One nation” — pause — “under God.” The reason why the pause is there is because, when people originally learned it, there was no “under God” there. That’s because the “under God” to honor Lincoln and his conversion was inserted in 1953 and, therefore, was always a next thought.

GOD’S HAND ON LEADERS

Folks, here’s what I simply want to say: thank God for His work in grace in leaders. Thank God for what he does in the lives of leaders. Thank God for how he works in leaders and can even convert presidents in the midst of the war, in the midst of their presidency and the ramifications of it can echo into eternity and into the history and future of that nation.

When you celebrate Lincoln and Washington’s birthday this February, remember God’s work of grace in converting George Washington and in converting Abraham Lincoln and pray for God’s work of grace in our elected officials today.

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, we are out of time for today. On Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, Super Bowl LII is in the history books. The Philadelphia Eagles are world champions, but there’s a story behind the story.

DR. REEDER: And there’s a story that I hope becomes a larger story in our nation from that story. Let’s talk about it 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. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

11 hours ago

Alabama apps: App2Talk helps nonverbal children communicate

As children grow they learn to communicate at first through sound and body movements before advancing to words and language.

But for children with nonverbal autism, communicating needs or wants can be more difficult.

A nonprofit in Alabama is working to help these children by developing a mobile app to assist with communication. Based in Mobile, Autism2Ability aims to develop programs for families with special-needs children.

Autism2Ability founder Ray Miller saw how these families needed tools to enable clearer communication, so the nonprofit partnered with an Apple developer and began building the new technology.

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After years of development, App2Talk launched on the app market in November 2014 for a one-time cost of $99.99.

Miller said the hard work was well worth it given that 25 percent of children with autism don’t speak.

“I felt there was a call for me to do something – it was providential,” Miller said.

The app has many customizable pictures allowing words to be communicated visually when the child needs something.

For example, if a child wants popcorn, he or she presses the popcorn image on a smartphone or tablet and a voice says the image pressed, meaning parents and educators can hear the request.

Since its official launch, the app has evolved with each update.

Miller works with experts in various fields while developing updates for the app, including speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and special-education teachers.

He said each update makes the app more robust and ensures the autistic community will get maximum usefulness while using App2Talk.

“These children are very smart people. A lot of them just need an outlet to show that off, so we try to make sure we give them the best one,” Miller said.

The three levels of learning on App2Talk – elementary, intermediate and advanced – give children an opportunity to grow and progress when communicating. The app also automatically tracks their progress, giving parents and educators an avenue to analyze what the child has mastered and what’s still difficult.

Educators like Jennifer Williams see positive feedback when using the app.

Williams is the behavior specialist manager at the Mobile County Public School System and uses the device when she’s working with kids. Because many behavioral problems are rooted in a lack of communication, she has used App2Talk to help bridge gaps with children undergoing struggles they can’t necessarily voice.

Williams said a child has also used the app to communicate while in pain.

“Throughout his childhood, the pain was indescribable. It was beyond words,” Williams said. “The child couldn’t tell anyone where he was hurting or how much the pain stung, and the frustration would lead to self-inflicted damage. App2Talk changed that.”

Using the app, the child selected pictures of the body parts in pain, and the parents were finally able to help the child.

“We know the need is there,” Miller said. “We just have to keep pushing, and keep helping out the kids because they’re our future.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

13 hours ago

What’s in a name? ‘It Don’t Matter’

It don’t matter whether you’re on your way to the Gulf, or you’re a native Crenshaw Countian who loves a meat-and-three. The restaurant with the eye-catching name is sure to make you want to pull in.

The “It Don’t Matter” family restaurant in Highland Home, 27 miles south of Montgomery, has the best thing an eatery could have going for it besides good food: an unusual name and location, location, location. “It Don’t Matter” sits directly on U.S. Highway 331, the main drag from north Alabama to the Florida beaches at Destin, Fort Walton, Seaside and the western end of Panama City.

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If you’re heading south, the restaurant is perched on the left on a hill as 331 slips in to Highland Home, an unincorporated town of 1,200 in the very northern edge of Crenshaw County and a stone’s throw from the Montgomery County line. Owner Pete Hayes is keenly aware he has a ready-made clientele of beach-goers driving in front of his daily breakfast; a lunch/dinner buffet of Southern-style meats and vegetables; a seafood buffet on Saturdays; and hand-cut steaks Friday and Saturday nights.

“I’ve had people come in and say, ‘We passed by and turned around and came back. We saw the name and all the cars and said let’s go back and try it,’” Hayes says.

But what they really want to know is where the restaurant got its funky name.

Hayes says it came from original owner John Faulk, a local homebuilder, who would respond, “It don’t matter” when his wife asked what he wanted for dinner every night. Faulk built the restaurant in 2000 on the site of an abandoned gas station that was long ago the site of Highland Home school.

The story of how Hayes acquired the 200-seat restaurant – and Hayes himself – is as interesting as the name.

He was a professional wrestler in the early 1980s alongside the likes of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes and the “Fabulous Freebirds” Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy in the heyday of Georgia Championship Wrestling.  GCW, later called World Championship Wrestling (WCW), with popular announcer Gordon Solie, drew a national following coast-to-coast in the early days of Atlanta cable Superstation WTBS. Pete Hayes wrestled as Pete Martin in Atlanta and over the years wearing a mask as the Assassin, the Enforcer, Masked Superstar, Los Lobos and the Skull Master, with tag-team partner the Bone Crusher.

Hayes, 58, grew up in the nearby town of Panola. Other than his wrestling career, he has worked most of his life in kitchen maintenance for what has grown to 52 Montgomery County schools.

Every afternoon, Hayes makes the 27-mile trip to the restaurant to make sure everything is going well. His wife, Liz, helps manage, too.

His path to buying “It Don’t Matter” in 2005 wasn’t exactly in a straight line. His son, “Little Pete,” went there to work for Faulk as manager. When Faulk realized it was too much to run both the restaurant and his construction business, he shut down the restaurant, Hayes recalls.

Little Pete said he would manage the restaurant if his father bought and reopened it, which Hayes did. Little Pete, however, eventually went to nursing school, ending his management of “It Don’t Matter” and leaving his father with the restaurant.

Which didn’t matter to Hayes.

“I really like this business because I like talking to people,” Hayes said as one of the main reasons he kept the restaurant. He isn’t a silent owner. He is very visible, socializing with customers and helping replenish the buffet. He even cooks, with steaks his forte.

While the name of the restaurant is fun, and Hayes has plenty of it, things haven’t always been that way. In 2012, the restaurant burned to the ground in just a few hours after it was struck by lightning, taking 8 1/2 months to build back.

Hayes says he will likely retire from the Montgomery County school system in five years, but has no plans to retire from the restaurant business anytime soon. In fact, he recently opened his second restaurant – Front Porch Barbecue – at the Fort Deposit exit on Interstate 65 some 15 miles away.

“The biggest challenge in this business is to make your customers happy,” he says. “You may make 150 of them happy one night, and you make one mad, and they tell 1,000 people. So we try to put out the very best product we can and make people feel like they’re at home.

“It does matter to us if you enjoy it.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

14 hours ago

VIDEO: Trump/Putin summit, Alabama campaigns go negative and lose, no hope, and more on Guerrilla Politics!

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Did President Trump mess up the Vladimir Putin summit?

— Did Alabama candidates who went negative cost themselves their races?

— Is there any evidence a “blue wave” is ready to hit Alabama?

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor State Rep. Will Ainsworth joins Jackson and Burke to discuss his victory over Twinkle Cavanaugh and the upcoming general election.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at Twinkle Cavanaugh, who thinks a boat citation is an “arrest” worthy of an attack ad.

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14 hours ago

5 ways Alabama researchers are taking on aerospace challenges

Universities across Alabama are helping to shape the future of the global aerospace industry.

From complex research projects to intensive training for future pilots and engineers, these institutions are making a significant impact on the journey to conquer skies and space.

As global aerospace industry leaders gather at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow, it’s time to take a look at five interesting projects happening inside labs and classrooms across the state:

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‘MARSBEES’

An assistant engineering professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville recently received a 2018 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Award for his proposal involving robotic bumble-bee-sized flapping-winged fliers to aid in the exploration of Mars.

Dr. Chang-kwon Kang is collaborating on the project with other researchers at UAH, as well as those from George Washington University and the Tokyo University of Science. The proposal features the Marsbee, whose large cicada-like wings have the ability to hover in the Martian atmosphere. It’s also equipped with sensors and wireless communication devices.

“Flying on Mars is challenging because of the ultra-low density in the Martian atmosphere. Our preliminary work shows that bio-inspired aerodynamic mechanisms can help in generating sufficient lift to fly on Mars,” Kang said.

“One of our main goals for the first phase is to experimentally demonstrate that these Marsbees can lift off their own weight in Martian density conditions in the vacuum chamber of UAH’s Propulsion Research Center.”

He said the long-term goal is to develop swarms of Marsbees that can help with the human exploration on Mars.

Kang’s proposal was one of only 25 selected to receive an award from the NIAC program, which invests in early-stage technology with the potential to revolutionize future space exploration. It provides up to $125,000 in funding over nine months to award winners, and the concepts that succeed in feasibility testing are eligible for Phase II awards.

RFID TECH RESEARCH

 At Auburn University, the new Delta Air Lines Aviation Education Building is expected to open this fall.

The 23,000-square-foot facility, funded with a $6.2 million gift from Delta Air Lines, the Delta Air Lines Foundation and the Jacobson Family Foundation, is the first building designed exclusively for aviation education at Auburn.

It will include more room for growing enrollment and class offerings, as well as state-of-the-art flight simulators, technology-equipped classrooms and faculty offices and workspace.

The gift is also supporting the university’s Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) lab, where scientists conduct research on how specialized sensor technologies can affect a variety of industries. For aviation in particular, such technology is useful in maintenance and safety history, tracking passenger baggage and making air travel safer and more efficient overall.

Also benefiting from the gift is Emerge, a student leadership program at Auburn that hosts monthly speakers focused on values, vision and teamwork.

Auburn’s Department of Aviation is home to one of the longest-standing public flight programs in the U.S.

“We know firsthand how capable Auburn graduates are and look forward to a future with Auburn in which truly, the sky is the limit,” said Paul Jacobson, Delta’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, trustee with the Delta Air Lines Foundation and chair of the Jacobson Family Foundation.

SPACE STATION FREEZERS

A research group at the University of Alabama at Birmingham designs and builds freezers that play key roles in experiments conducted on the International Space Station.

A multi-year contract between NASA and the UAB Engineering Innovation and Technology Development (EITD) research group was recently doubled, giving the group a $50 million cap on work to provide and maintain these cold-stowage units for the ISS.

The freezers are capable of maintaining temperatures as low as negative 160 degrees Celsius, and each line meets specific cold-stowage demands. They are used to store scientific samples and serve as galley refrigerator/freezers for the ISS crew.

The group also monitors the units from its Remote Operations Command Center on the UAB campus.

EITD is comprised of nearly 40 engineers and technicians and led by Dr. Lee Moradi, a UAB engineering professor.

“These contracts are evidence of the quality of personnel we have in our group,” Moradi said. “Our engineers and technicians have an impeccable reputation that has been built over decades, and we have been able to recruit extremely talented young engineers and software developers, including several top UAB students, both graduate and undergraduate.”

ELECTRIC SPACE SAILS

University of South Alabama researcher is studying a form of propulsion that would revolutionize deep space missions.

Dr. Carlos Montalvo, an assistant engineering professor, is conducting research on the electric sail, or E-Sail, which has major implications for aerospace.

“The Electric Sail is a relatively new concept of advanced in-space propulsion,” Montalvo said. “This technology has the potential to provide propellant-less propulsion throughout the solar system. An electric sail deploys multiple long (20 km) tethers that are positively charged. The solar wind interacts with the tethers to provide propulsion.”

Based on the E-Sail’s characteristic acceleration, it can reach the heliopause region, the boundary marking the end of the sun’s influence, in 10 years. By comparison, the characteristic acceleration of a solar sail puts it in the heliopause region in 20 years, while chemical rockets take 24 years.

“The only spacecraft to reach the heliopause region is the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, which reached the heliopause region in 36 years,” Montalvo said. “The increase in performance from a solar sail to an E-Sail lies in the growing sheath width of the electric sail, which grows with distance from the sun.”

E-sails provide a new way for small spacecraft to be used for deep space missions.

“This has never been done before. It would pave the way for small secondary payloads to reach uncharted territories of our universe,” Montalvo said.

TRAINING THE FUTURE WORKFORCE

Tuskegee University’s Aerospace Science Engineering Department is focused on sparking an interest in STEM activities among local students, using the power of flight.

Along with the university’s Mathematics Department, Aerospace Science Engineering hosts a weeklong summer camp, “Fly High Your Math and Science Skills,” for Macon County middle school students.

One of the program’s highlights for the students is flying various missions on a flight simulator.

“The simulator is a favorite for students – it provides hands-on experience and allows us to better connect math and science concepts for them,” said Dr. Javed Khan, head of the Aerospace Science Engineering Department.

The activities also teach critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and communication skills. In addition, middle school teachers receive science and mathematics education training.

The project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“This is the second year for the program, and it continues to be an outstanding learning opportunity that will greatly benefit teachers and students alike, as well as prepare students for career opportunities in the STEM fields,” Khan added.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

Public contributes ideas for new Birmingham downtown linear park

Dozens of individuals, plus representatives from local businesses, public agencies and nonprofits expressed themselves Tuesday about what should be in the mix of amenities and activities at a proposed linear park in downtown Birmingham.
Officials with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the City of Birmingham kicked off the first of multiple public sessions aimed at crafting a unique, 31-acre, 10-block-long public space that will live underneath a rebuilt elevated section of Interstate 59/20.

“We want to do something special,” Brandon Johnson, the city’s director of Community Engagement, told the crowd at Boutwell Municipal Auditorium.

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“We want your input. We value your ideas,” said DeJarvis Leonard, ALDOT region engineer.

Dubbed CityWalk BHAM, the public space, running from 15th Street to 25th Street North, near the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, is scheduled to be completed in time for The World Games coming to Birmingham in summer 2021.

“The World Games is a magnificent opportunity for the city, and we think this project can be a welcomed attraction for visitors and natives of Birmingham alike, come 2021,” Leonard said.

Ben Donsky, vice president of  Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, told the audience at the start of the first public session that the project is an opportunity to create a unique public space that offers an enormous variety of activities and programming, serving different audiences at different times of the day. One of the project consultants, Biederman has helped design or redevelop numerous public spaces around the country, including Bryant Park in New York City, Salesforce Park in San Francisco and Canalside in Buffalo, New York.

“We want to build something that is sustainable, that will be treasured for generations,” Donsky said.

Participants in the first session moved among six viewing stations, where they could examine conceptual images of different activities and elements that could be incorporated into CityWalk. They ranged from skateboarding to walking paths and playgrounds, a dog park, a farmers’ market, cafés and music stages.

Donsky said programming at CityWalk also could range broadly, from exercise classes for seniors, to art and music events for adults and children, to food stalls for downtown workers on their lunch hour. “We want to have lots of variety,” he said.

“We think this could be an economic generator for the city and a regional attraction … from every demographic and every age level,” Donsky added.

Participants could mark their preferences among the many images spread on the tables – or suggest their own ideas.

Donsky said few cities have created public spaces of this proposed magnitude underneath a rebuilt highway. “It’s really groundbreaking.”

A comprehensive price tag for the project hasn’t been finalized, but an estimated $15 million to $20 million is expected to be available from state and federal transportation coffers for construction. Officials hope to add to that amount with local support, along with corporate and philanthropic dollars that could help to provide resources for ongoing events and programming.

In addition to the three public sessions held Tuesday at Boutwell, a second round is set for July 24 at the Birmingham Crossplex. Additional public meetings also could be scheduled. More information is available at a new website, http://citywalkbham.com/, and a new Facebook page, where additional details are expected to be shared from the public sessions.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)