Pastor Harry Reeder: There is hope and a way forward for the Matt Lauers in our lives


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TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to take you to a story out of the Chicago Tribune. As we all know, Matt Lauer was fired from NBC after an employee filed a complaint about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.

 Matt Lauer hosted NBC’s “Today Show” for two decades. He was a staple of millions of people as he opened their day with him giving them the news.

 “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation they have behaved badly?” asked Lauer’s “Today” co-host, Savannah Gutherie. “I don’t know the answer to that,” she said, “but I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important. It’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women, all people feel safe and respected.”

 Gutherie’s voice shook slightly as she delivered the news last Wednesday. Harry, let me ask you, how do you reconcile your love or affection for someone with the revelation that he or she has behaved badly?

DR. REEDER: I’m going to say something, Tom, that I hope people will be patient with me because they’re going to say that the analogy doesn’t hold, but I would really ask them to think through it. The question that Ms. Gutherie, I think very poignantly asked, you love somebody but they behaved badly. What in the world do you do?

Tom, every parent faces that. I love my children and then they behave badly. Some of the behavior is worse than others, but they behaved badly. What do you do? And how do you respond to that?

There’s a Biblical principle that the theologians call “analogia de fide,” study principles by faith. In other words, we believe the Word of God is inspired, inherent, infallible and never contradicts itself. So if I’m in a difficult text, what do I do to understand the difficult text?

Well, you go to a text less difficult to understand that deals with the same issues, knowing that whatever it says can’t be contradicted by the difficult text. So you go to the more clear in order to understand the more obtuse.

Make a way for redemption

Here is a situation where, I would say, when you’re faced with this in the culture, back up. There are three spheres we live in: the Sovereignty of the Family, the Sovereignty of the State, and the Sovereignty of the Church. What do you in the Church and what do you do in the family?

Well, you do not tolerate the behavior, you discipline it. But you always make a way of redemption. And that way of redemption that you lay out for your children so that:

a) Your status can be recovered, and there is a way for your behavior to change — change of behavior and change of status.

b.) That does not mean there aren’t immediate consequences either legally or physically or socially or economically. Yes, the bad behavior has consequences, but there is a way of redemption. You do that with your children, you do that in the Church. In the Church we have a discipline committee. If someone commits egregious sins, we go and try to win them. Mathew 18 says, “Go to your brother to win them. If they don’t listen, take one or two spiritual people with you.”

c.) The third thing to do is you bring it to the elders of the Church and then they can go through a process of discipline. And everything’s there not to punish, but to win. Even though the behavior that’s being dealt with is not going to be tolerated, the person becomes the object of addressing the consequences and a way of redemption is established.

You do that in a family, you do that in a church, now how do you do that in the State? This is why it’s so crucial for us to have the free practice of religion in our country. The State’s job is not to rehabilitate Matt Lauer.

The State’s job is to say, “this behavior is not tolerated in the workplace and here are the consequences. But as the State, we protect the family and the Church who can come to you with a way of redemption.”

Now let me tell you that wonderful way of redemption, and that wonderful way of redemption is Jesus Christ who calls you to confess, own your sin; to repent and believe and put your trust in Christ who pays for your sins. And then by His Spirit at work within your spirit, He begins to do a work to change the behavior.

And, in fact, God’s work of Grace that not only restores us to a right status with Him when we confess our sins, but also changes us and we do deeds appropriate to repentance and it actually changes the behavior so much so, that in the Bible, the places where people have the most egregious sins become the greatest strengths in their life.

God can heal

Tom, one time I had a very bad break in my arm when I played baseball. It was a very painful setting, I’ll never forget that. And I remember the doctor telling my dad and my mom and my hearing, “I cannot promise you that Ike, that was my nickname, that Ike is not going to break his arm, again. He’s a very active boy in sports, so he very well may break an arm or something else, again. But I can tell you this, he won’t break it here.”

In other words, where it knit together will be stronger than any other place in the arm. So we see a religious terrorist, like Paul, become a church planter. We see Peter, who fails Jesus three different times in being faithful, yet repents and becomes a stalwart leader in the Church, even willing to die a martyr’s death at the end of his life.

We see Elijah, who ran in cowardice, become the brave prophet of the Lord to the Court. Constantly in the Bible, you see Moses who was guilty of manslaughter who became the great leader of the People of God in the Exodus. David and how God works in his life. The prodigal son who gets restored because the father is there to meet him.

You see, what you and I are grappling with, God has already grappled with. He made us and He loves us, Tom, but He will not abide by our sin, nor does He simply tolerate us as sinners. He judges our sin and then He brings a judgment upon our sin through His Son that creates a way for our redemption in Jesus Christ. And then He sends His Spirit to change our lives.

What you are grappling with with Matt Lauer, how do I now relate to someone who has done something so horrendous and has behaved so badly? Well, here’s what God does. God brings judgment upon the sin and God makes a way of redemption for the sinner.

There are consequences

How do we deal with a Matt Lauer? Here’s what the State does. The State doesn’t try to be the Church, but what the State does is protect the freedoms of the Church and the Family so they can come and bring the way back for a Matt Lauer to be restored in life, even though the consequences of the sins have to paid for in the reign and dominion of the State and its responsibilities.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, when we consider repentance, restore, and being reconciled – those things don’t happen immediately. When a spouse finds out that, perhaps, their husband or wife has been unfaithful and their faced with horrendous decisions to make in the immediate phase, I would think, oftentimes there’s one of two choices: either I’m giving up on this marriage or immediately welcoming the spouse back in without facing the consequences of what’s been done.

DR. REEDER: Both of those are what you want to avoid. Even if you have Biblical grounds for divorce, divorce is never ultimately the answer. Divorce is there to protect the victim, and if you need to carry through the divorce, you carry through with the divorce. But I always tell people, even when you make the divorce, the story’s not over.

I remarried my dad and mom. The way that my mom and my sisters and I dealt with my father, God used that to bring him back and restored their marriage for 12 wonderful years after 15 years of divorce.

In terms of welcoming them back, you don’t just welcome someone back. They have to not only confess their sins with faith and repentance declaring their sins and owning their sin, but they also do deeds appropriate to repentance.

This isn’t penance; Jesus does the penance on the cross. The people need to demonstrate the reality and sincerity of their repentance. Trust is something you can lose. I can forgive someone, but I don’t yet trust them to put them back in the place that they were.

That doesn’t mean there’s not a way back one day in the future, but there are consequences to our sins that we can’t get all the way back to that previous position, but we can do deeds appropriate to repentance and God can create positions that will yet honor Him in life as we seek to grow in Grace and demonstrate the sincerity of our repentance.

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.

 

56 mins ago

Wetlands, crops can mitigate storm damage to coastal cities, study led by UAH finds

Coastal cities can be spared some wind destruction from intensifying hurricanes or tropical storm systems if they have functional wetland ecosystems and agricultural croplands in the area, according to new computer modeling research led by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

“Our study was about how changing land cover in coastal areas affects rain from tropical storms,” says Emily Foshee, co-author of the research and a research associate at UAH’s Earth System Science Center who analyzed the models. Dr. Eric Rappin from Western Kentucky University ran the numerical model experiments.

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The paper was published in Scientific Reports in November. UAH teamed with Western Kentucky University, the University of Nebraska, the University of Georgia, the University of Colorado Boulder, Purdue University, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to conduct the study.

Scientists used the model with a simulation of a flooding storm over Baton Rouge as a control and then modified the type of land the storm passed over to assess the effect. They modeled three land types: healthy coastal marshland, marshland that had become saturated or turned to open water and coastal land that had been converted mostly to agricultural use.

The ground moisture and vegetative buffering of healthy marsh impede storm intensification but increase rainfall in the model.

“If you want to keep the marsh ecology intact because you don’t want to lose all the other benefits of marshland such as preventing soil erosion and the wildlife and aquatic life benefits, and if you are concerned about how to have less damage from storm winds, then you must keep the wetlands,” says Dr. Udaysankar Nair, UAH associate professor of atmospheric science and the paper’s lead author, whose research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

“When you have a landfalling hurricane, if you have wetlands there, then there is a greater chance that the storm or hurricane will weaken,” Dr. Nair says.

Scientists modeled the effects on the Baton Rouge, La., region by using NASA land surface model data and data from an actual large flooding storm. Study findings, which support preservation and restoration of healthy marshes, may be especially important in Louisiana, which loses the equivalent of a football field of land to water every hour.

Agriculture continues to convert wetland in Louisiana to crop uses, and those practices tend to dry soils. Cut off from a source of water vapor, storms in the model that passed over cropland were less intense and windy. But there’s a tradeoff. Single crop agricultural lands don’t possess the erosion control and biodiversity benefits of marshland, Dr. Nair says.

The combined effect of healthy wetlands transitioning to cropland reduced storm intensity in the model no matter what soil moisture conditions were present.

The research says that if current trends continue, a substantial portion of Louisiana wetlands will transition to open water in coming decades, likely making the studied region even more vulnerable to heavy rain events from future tropical systems.

Marsh that has become super-saturated or has turned to open water, known as a brown ocean, produces the most damaging winds in the model, while at the same time spreading out rainfall. That’s because saturated wetlands or open water continue to feed energy into a hurricane’s system.

Air spirals in toward the eye of a hurricane, and as it does it has a tendency to cool, Dr. Nair says. While the storm is over warm open ocean, over open water resulting from conversion of wetlands, or over the brown ocean of a saturated marsh, the energy from the wet and warm surface offsets the cooling effect with warm humid air and the storm can continue to grow stronger.

“What happens when a hurricane comes ashore is that the land cuts off that source of energy,” Dr. Nair says. “Different forms of land cover affect the storm. What we found out is that it’s not just the water vapor that affects storms.”

The natural vegetation in healthy marsh has more buffering friction than if it has been converted to open water or agriculture, he says.

“If all these marsh regions are instead filled with water, essentially that is like the open ocean coming right to land,” Dr. Nair says. “Then you see more wind and more spread out rain, and more damage out of the storm. The storm will continue to intensify as it comes in.”

The work points to other areas for further study.

“If we do more of these kinds of studies,” Dr. Nair says, “then we can potentially be able to say something about how the patterns of land use change and land management affect landfall in hurricanes.”

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville)

2 hours ago

Watch: Bicentennial video tells the stories of Alabama’s great people

The finale of the ALABAMA 200 bicentennial celebration is on Saturday, with the public celebrating with elected officials, celebrities and dignitaries in the state’s capital.

However, even if you cannot make the festivities in person, you can still take time remotely to honor Alabama becoming a state 200 years ago to the day.

A video put together by WBRC and posted by Governor Kay Ivey is a great way to relive the state’s vibrant history.

Entitled, “Alabama Bicentennial: The Stories of Our People,” the approximately 50-minute special looks back on the state’s past 200 years, hearing from some of its most memorable voices in the process.

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In an introduction to that video, Ivey says, “As we celebrate our state’s bicentennial, I want to recognize my fellow Alabamians. As governor, I’m proud to be from a state that has remained steadfast through good times and bad.”

“Our resiliency and southern spirit have allowed us to grow and become the great state we are today,” she continues. “To put it simply, Alabama is defined by its people, and we have some of the best. I look forward to the future generations of Alabamians who will help take us to even greater heights. Happy birthday, Alabama!”

Watch:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Alabama’s ‘white gold’ draws worldwide interest

Ruth Beaumont Cook’s latest book started 10 years ago as a brochure request from Sylacauga‘s B.B. Comer Memorial Library in advance of the city’s first marble festival.

“They asked me to put together a brochure about the history of the marble,” Cook said. “It was overwhelmingly successful, so the next year they asked to me write a book.”

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New book celebrates Sylacauga’s marble legacy from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Nearly nine years and dozens of interviews later, Cook celebrates the natural resource that nurtures both the economy and the cultural heritage of Alabama’s “Marble City” in her new book, “Magic in Stone: The Sylacauga Marble Story.”

“Whenever you start working on a book, you have all of this information but you look for a story thread through it,” Cook said. “I had no clue when I started what that was going to be.”

Cook said the clues starting coming together as she started talking to people who grew up mining marble.

“There are so many people who grew up in Gantts Quarry,” Cook said. “Most people have good memories of growing up there and work they are proud of. Telling those stories was the most interesting part of it.”

Commercial marble quarries began in Sylacauga in the late 1800s. Cook said the marble was initially used by sculptors such as Giuseppe Moretti, the Italian who created the Vulcan statue on Red Mountain in Birmingham.

“His Vulcan won gold prize at the 1904 World’s Fair, but what most people don’t know is he also took another piece with him, ‘The Head of Christ,’ which he had carved from Sylacauga marble,” Cook said. “It won a silver medal.”

The notoriety caught the attention of construction managers around the world who were seeking dimension marble for their projects. By the 1930s, Sylacauga’s creamy white marble had been used in hundreds of buildings, including the U.S. Supreme Court building and the ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial.

“It was chosen for the Lincoln Memorial because it can be cut very thin and still be strong,” Cook said. “They cut it thin enough to be translucent and then rubbed it with beeswax and put it in the ceiling.”

Despite the marble’s beauty and strength, Cook said the demand for dimension marble in construction dropped dramatically by the 1950s.

“It became obvious that granite was much easier to withstand pollution than marble,” Cook said. “Marble is still great if it’s thick enough, but if you make a facade of it on a building, it’s probably not going to last because it deteriorates from the pollution.”

Instead of closing the mines and laying off employees, Cook said the Sylacauga marble companies survived and thrived thanks to a growing need for calcium extracted from marble deposits and used in hundreds of products, such as cosmetics, paints and glue.

“They turned to industry and began to grind up the marble into fine powder – called GCC, ground calcium carbonate – which industry had a strong demand for,” Cook said.

Cook said Sylacauga continues to be a rich marble resource more than 70 years later.

“I’ve been told there’s enough marble there for sculpture and industry for at least another 200 years,” Cook said. “The vein of marble is 35 miles long, a mile and a half wide and goes down quite a ways — 300 or 400 feet I believe. It’s a very valuable resource.”

Sylacauga Marble Festival

Since 2009, the city has celebrated its heritage through the Sylacauga Marble Festival, a 10-day event drawing sculptors from around the world to work alongside an Italian master sculptor. Visitors can watch, tour local quarries and purchase sculptures. Cook said the festival brings Sylacauga’s rich heritage full circle.

“It came from art, up through all of these others, and now you have this wonderful balance,” Cook said. “You still have major industry but you also have major art appreciation. It’s a great story.”

The 12th annual Marble Festival will be March 31 to April 11, 2020.

The 2019 Marble Festival, which was one of several events highlighted by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission as part of the state’s 200th birthday celebration, was sponsored by the Alabama Power FoundationAlabama State Council on the ArtsAlabama Tourism DepartmentAmerican Legion Post 45 SylacaugaArchitectural Stone ImportsB.B. Comer Memorial LibraryBlue Bell CreameriesBlue Horizon TravelCity of Sylacauga, Conn Equipment, Coosa Valley Medical CenterCurtis and Son Funeral HomeImerysIsabel Anderson Comer Museum and Arts CenterJ. Craig Smith Community CenterMiller Lumber CompanyMorris Custom Marble & GraniteNemakOmya, Inc.Pizza & Pint, Representative Ron Johnson, SouthFirst BankSylacauga Arts CouncilSylacauga Chamber of CommerceSylacauga Housing Authority, Sylacauga Marble Quarry, Towne Inn, 21st Century Signs and Utilities Board of Sylacauga.

To learn more about “Magic in Stone: The Sylacauga Marble Story,” visit newsouthbooks.com/magicinstone.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 hours ago

Birmingham Business Alliance reveals new mission, economic development approach

The Birmingham Business Alliance revealed a new mission and a new approach to economic development as it heads into 2020.

The BBA’s 2019 Chairwoman’s Annual Meeting was at the Lyric Theatre in Birmingham Dec. 11. Chairwoman Nancy Goedecke passed the gavel to Jim Gorrie, president and CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie.

Gone is Blueprint Birmingham, which guided the BBA through its first 10 years. In its place is a strategy that keys in life sciences, advanced manufacturing and technology. Those are some of the main industries the Alabama Department of Commerce is expected to emphasize in its revision of Accelerate Alabama, the state’s economic development plan.

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“Those are the three areas that we’re going to focus on,” said Fred McCallum, interim CEO of the BBA. “I will tell you that when you look at our state plan, there are a lot of similarities.”

Birmingham Business Alliance announces new direction from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

A main component to Blueprint Birmingham was a set of metrics that measured Birmingham’s success against a cluster of peer cities. Doing so often looked too broadly, McCallum said.

“Blueprint was a good plan at the time,” he said. “It was very wide and in some ways it was successful and in other ways it wasn’t so successful. I think what we’ve come to now is a point in time where we’ve got to focus in on jobs and economic growth.”

There will be a new set of metrics created and benchmarked in a new BBA strategic plan, McCallum said.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin did highlight one comparison between Birmingham and other cities.

“Since the great recession around 2008, 60% of all jobs have only gone to 25 cities in America,” Woodfin said. “You need to know that Birmingham is not on that list.”

Woodfin feels Birmingham should measure itself against its own potential instead of comparing itself to others.

“We don’t have to be like Nashville or Chattanooga or Atlanta or Austin,” he said. “We need to be the best version of ourselves. But that is going to require us to shake off the way we’ve always done things.”

Woodfin said the companies and organizations that make up the BBA should be prepared to take greater risks and push boundaries.

“Being risk-averse at this time as we move into 2020 … will not work for us – as an organization or for our city,” he said. “So the question becomes when you walk out of this room, are we prepared to invest in our competitiveness? Do we want to compete? Do we want to set ourselves apart, not be like any other city in America?”

A primary goal for the BBA is to find a new CEO. McCallum has led the organization on an interim basis after former CEO Brian Hilson stepped down at the end of March. Hilson now works on rural economic development initiatives in the state.

Other changes will include aligning the BBA’s internal strategy to execute the new strategic plan, updating its governance structure to be more effective and efficient and aligning the funding model to support the BBA’s new strategic plan.

“I think the organization will be more focused on specific strategies and focused on doing what we do well,” McCallum said.

McCallum believes Birmingham leaders and economic developers can tell the region’s story more forcefully and proactively.

“We’re on a good trajectory. I feel good about where we are as a community,” McCallum said. “Our leadership is strong. Our public leadership is strong. Our private leadership is strong. I feel good about where the BBA is focused.”

This year’s annual meeting was more a call to action than the rah-rah sessions of the past.

“Usually I would get up here and give you all some stats about what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished,” Woodfin said. “I think it is fair to say that 2019 has been a good year for many of your organizations individually and collectively for our Birmingham Business Alliance.”

It was a good 2019 in the Birmingham metro area. Halfway through the year, the region reached and surpassed its pre-recession height of employment. There were 32 projects with 1,180 jobs and $492.2 million in capital investment announced in the region in 2019.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

The biggest birthday party in Alabama history is TODAY!

The biggest birthday party in Alabama’s history is taking place today, December 14, and you are invited! Join us in Montgomery for the grand finale celebration of our state’s 200th birthday.

Watch the parade, listen to concerts and performances, visit open houses and much more.

This is sure to be a day you don’t want to miss. The event is free to the public and lasts all day starting with an elaborate parade at 10:00 a.m. The parade will travel from Court Square Fountain in downtown Montgomery up Dexter Avenue to the State Capitol. There will be marching bands, city floats and unique displays of Alabama history on wheels, such as the USS Alabama and U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The parade is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the celebration together – and it’s only the beginning of a packed day. Following the parade, Governor Kay Ivey will dedicate Bicentennial Park. The afternoon will offer performances, exhibitions and open houses throughout downtown Montgomery. The day will conclude with a concert featuring popular musicians from Alabama and the history of Alabama presented in a never-before-seen way.

Visit Alabama 200 Finale for a complete rundown of the day’s events.

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