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.

 

2 hours ago

Barry Moore lands Trump endorsement in AL-02 following Oval Office visit

Former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) on Wednesday visited with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office.

After the meeting, Trump tweeted his endorsement of Moore’s Republican campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

Trump wrote that Moore will be “will be a terrific Congressman for Alabama.”

The president noted that Moore was an earlier endorser of his campaign in the 2016 cycle, adding that Moore “is Strong on Jobs, Life, the Wall, Law & Order and the Second Amendment.”

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“I’m truly honored to be endorsed for Congress by President Donald J. Trump. I have never regretted being the first elected official in America to endorse him for President in 2015, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the next Congress during his second term,” Moore said in a statement.

“President Trump has already accomplished so much and kept so many of his Campaign promises despite all that the Establishment and the Democrats have done to obstruct him, but he knows there’s still lots to be done,” he continued. “We must contain and control the COVID pandemic, restore our economy to the pre-pandemic level of growth and prosperity we enjoyed during his first three years in office. We must restore and maintain law and order on our streets and in our cities. We must finish building the wall, and then fix our broken immigration system.”

Moore outlined, “We had great meetings at the White House with the President’s Domestic Policy team. Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council was also there. We discussed a new Healthcare plan being introduced, economic recovery, trade with China, and expansion of opportunity zones in depressed areas. The President has a bright vision for America.”

“I’m convinced that Donald J. Trump is the President we need to lead us for the next four years, and I hope the people of Alabama’s 2nd District see fit to elect me to work with President Trump as their Congressman on November 3rd,” he concluded.

Moore will face Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall on November 3.

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

3 hours ago

Jerry Carl visits White House, gets endorsed by President Trump in AL-01

Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, on Wednesday visited the White House and met in the Oval Office with President Donald J. Trump.

“It was an incredible honor to spend over half an hour in the Oval Office with President Trump and Vice President Pence today,” Carl said in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

After the visit, Trump in a tweet endorsed Carl for the Southwest Alabama congressional seat.

“He Loves our Veterans, Stands for Law & Order, and is Strong on Jobs and the Second Amendment. Jerry has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump wrote.

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“The President is focused not only on his own race, but also on down ballot races nationwide,” Carl told Yellowhammer News. “He cares about the people of Alabama, and we had a good conversation about issues that are affecting Alabama’s 1st District.”

“I’m looking forward to working with President Trump to address some of these critical issues – stopping the spread of socialism, supporting our law enforcement, and getting our economy back on track,” he concluded. “Thank you, President Trump!”

Carl will face Democrat James Averhart on November 3.

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

5 hours ago

Sara Evans is a 2020 Woman of Impact

One of country music’s most popular artists of the 21st century, Sara Evans, has adopted Alabama as her own, and she is not slowing down.

Earlier in 2020, Evans released a new album, “Copy That,” where she covers 13 classic songs, and published a new memoir, Born to Fly.

She came to the Yellowhammer State after marrying former University of Alabama quarterback Jay Barker in 2008. They now make their home in the Birmingham area along with their seven children.

The singer performs and releases music under the name Sara Evans, which is how Yellowhammer News is referring to her for the purposes of this article. Evans does not shy away from her married name; just in 2019, she released a six-track EP titled “The Barker Family Band” which featured herself, her son Avery and daughter Olivia.

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Evans was born and raised outside of a small town in Missouri and began her lifelong connection with music at age four. She had recorded her first CD and was attending country music events by the age of 9 or 10, according to a 2011 interview.

Aspiring to a career in music, she moved to Nashville in 1991 and worked as a waitress while trying to find her big break.

“Three Chords and The Truth” and “No Place That Far,” Evans’ first two albums, were released in 1997 and 1998 respectively. They earned the artist solid reviews from critics but did not make a big impact on the charts.

“If I’m going to have the career I came to Nashville to find,” she told a newspaper at the time. “I’ve got to get on the radio and give today’s fans what they want.”

“Born to Fly,” the album that resulted from this change in sound, achieved everything Evans aimed to accomplish. The Recording Industry Association of America has certified it as double platinum; meaning it has sold over 2 million copies. Singles “Born to Fly” and “I Could Not Ask for More” placed first and second on the U.S. Country charts.

After the breakthrough success, Evans never left the country charts for very long over the next decade; buoyed by singles like “Suds in the Bucket” and “A Little Bit Stronger.”

Evans’ albums “Restless,” “Real Fine Place,” and “A Little Bit Stronger” are certified platinum and five more albums by Evans are certified gold.

She won Top Female Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2006.

Her five most popular songs available on the music streaming service Spotify have been played a combined 101,997,937 times.

Jerry Sharpe, a music writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, described Evans as having a “a strong, spring-water clear voice, which she uses well.”

Evans met her now-husband when they were both in their 30s with kids. They were introduced by Joe Beam, a Christian speaker that focuses on love and marriage who knew them both previously.

“One defining moment was, I made the decision to walk into my office and email Jay Barker and say, ‘Hey, so-and-so told me that I should reach out to you. I want you to know that I’m praying for you, and I’m sorry for everything that you’ve been through,” Evans recounted to music website The Boot.

Barker was the starting quarterback on the Crimson Tide’s 1992 championship-winning team, and at the time when he and Evans connected they had both recently gone through painful divorces.

“He emailed me back within five minutes, and that was definitely a defining moment,” she added.

Evans brought three children to the new family, while Barker brought four.

“Our house is full of children and activities and chaos, but Jay is such a great support to me,” Evans told The Boot about her husband, who hosts a sports talk show in Birmingham.

Radio play by country music stations is dominated by male artists and programmed by male deejays, something that has frustrated Evans in recent years.

She has become an outspoken advocate for more women in country music and voices her opinions on the subject with regularity.

Evans has appeared at events and spoken up for the organization Change the Conversation that aims to gain more representation for women in country music.

“The lack of voices heard on country radio affect not only those who are making music, but those listening as well. Music plays a powerful role in shaping our popular culture. Today’s music does not reflect who we are as a country and sends the wrong message to our girls and women. Too often, country songs portray women as a pretty ornament on the passenger side. It is time to reclaim a woman’s place in the driver’s seat,” the organization says on its website.

Evans has remarked that for her most recent original studio work, the album “Words” released in 2017, she placed a greater emphasis on including female producers and songwriters to give their careers a boost.

At a Change the Conversation event in 2017, Evans said, “When I first got my record deal, women were dominating country radio. We had Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack, LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain, Patty Loveless and on and on. I was fortunate enough to join that group of amazing women.”

“[W]e need to change the conversation and figure out why it is not that way anymore. Why are there not enough women on country radio? Women artists are amazing and they have so much great music that we want to hear and we need to hear, so let’s change the conversation,” she urged.

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Sara Evans a 2020 Woman of Impact.

Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through October 1. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Baldwin County residents throw parade for linemen amid recovery heroics

Southwest Alabama residents are celebrating the heroic linemen and support personnel who have traveled from across the country to restore utility services following Hurricane Sally last week.

WKRG reported that Fairhope residents on Tuesday night held a short parade downtown to express their appreciation for the power crews.

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The parade reportedly featured bucket trucks honking, with linemen inside waving, to those residents who took their time to line Section Street.

Alabama Power Company has restored power to its service area as of Sunday night, and Energy Institute of Alabama members continue to lead the charge restoring service to Baldwin County electric cooperative members, which was hardest hit by the slow-moving category 2 hurricane.

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

7 hours ago

Shadowy web of 20 ‘news’ sites operating in Alabama, tied to national network that invented quotes, bylines

A shadowy group of websites masquerading as local news agencies has been launched ahead of November’s high-stakes general election.

An investigation by Yellowhammer News uncovered the existence of “Yellowhammer Times,” which purports to be a statewide news organization intended “to provide objective, data-driven information without political bias.” The site’s “people” section, where one would expect its employees to be listed, is blank.

“We provide 100% original reporting, including to share as much data as possible from government and other publicly available sources,” the site claims. “We also provide a platform for all citizens whose views on issues are rarely heard. If you want a voice in your community, we want to hear from you.”

The website is admittedly owned and operated by Metric Media LLC and its parent Metric Media Foundation, a Missouri-based entity just granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status last year. Publicly available data shows that Metric Media has not yet revealed having any assets, income or revenue through mandatory IRS filings. This means that at this point in time, the organization is effectively operating as a dark money group.

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Metric Media has a glitzy website that asserts, “Metric Media is funded by donations and grants from contributors who care about restoring local news in their communities.”

The website does list a three-person board of directors, which is reportedly chaired by San Francisco-based Rakesh Donthineni. The other named directors are Victor Chen of Los Angeles and Brent Southwell of Houston. Chen formerly worked for then-Beijing TV China, an entity of Beijing Media Network — which is owned and operated by the Chinese government, otherwise known as the Chinese Communist Party.

Metric Media’s explicit presence in Alabama does not stop at the statewide Yellowhammer Times. The bottom of this website links to 18 more sites, all appearing to be local or regional news agencies across the state. These publications are identical in format to Yellowhammer Times and are as follows: Auburn Times, Baldwin Times, Decatur Times, East Central Alabama News, Gadsden Today, Huntsville Leader, Jefferson Reporter, Mobile Courant, NE Alabama News, NW Alabama News, North Birmingham Times, River Region Times, Shoals Today, South Alabama Times, South Birmingham Times, Tuscaloosa Leader, West Central Alabama News and Wiregrass Times.

Publicly available domain information shows that these sites were all registered in May of this year.

That same month, Yellowhammer Times published its first “original story,” which was about COVID-19 related liability issues. The author is listed as a “T.H. Lawrence.”

Almost every story posted since then has been a completely automated story, mainly using RSS feeds to populate the stories on the site. This includes republishing press releases from Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama State University and the University of Alabama. The automated stories also include a lot of identical templates that simply display federal government-released data.

In all, Yellowhammer Times as of Wednesday at noon hosted more than 2,300 stories on the site — with only two listing a human author. The automated stories name “Metric Media News Service” or other entities such as “Locality Labs News Service” as the author.

One short story about lost Alabama tax revenue related to the pandemic simply does not list an author.

The second story to actually list an author, Juliette Fairley, advocated in July to fully reopen the economy and return students to school in the fall. This story was based on exclusive quotes from Alabama-based John Chamberlain, board chairman for Citizen Health. Citizen Health advocates for subscription-based medical services and disrupting the healthcare industry.

Yellowhammer News dug into the two authors listed on the site. Fairley is a national freelance author specializing in finance, while T.H. Lawrence’s name popped up across several sites in Metric Media’s network of more than 1,000 sites nationwide.

Yellowhammer News’ investigation also uncovered that T.H. Lawrence is indeed Tom Lawrence, a career journalist from South Dakota who was once executive editor of the state’s Black Hills Pioneer. He is now a freelance writer and blogger, appearing in local publications (under his real name) such as the Dakota Free Press, American News and South Dakota Standard. He also has his own blog, the Prairie Perspective. It should be noted that American News is owned by national conglomerate Gannett.

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) in December 2019 published an in-depth investigative report that revealed some disturbing findings about Metric Media and its related entities, including Locality Labs. The investigation concluded that the network can be traced back to Illinois-based businessman and conservative activist Brian Timpone.

CJR was able to find at least 450 sites, all linked, operating under the banners of Metric Media, Locality Labs, Franklin Archer, the Record Inc. and Local Government Information Services. The entities at times — while being aimed at different states — shared IP addresses, Google Analytics IDs and other technical identifiers. Since December, the network has more than doubled in size, according to Metric Media’s own website.

CJR further traced Locality Lab’s origin story. The entity was once known as Timpone’s company “Journatic.” Journatic had to rebrand in 2013 following a national scandal over “faking bylines and quotes, and for plagiarism,” per CJR.

The CJR report followed a story published in October 2019 by a Michigan paper about Metric Media’s network that had popped up in that state. More local and national reporting followed, including by the New York Times and Guardian.

Yellowhammer Times republishes stories from other named entities in this Metric Media web, as well. For example, the publication ran a story from Empire State Today of New York.

This also includes another Alabama-focused site not directly linked at the bottom of Yellowhammer Times. Alabama Business Daily stories are republished on the site, and CJR previously reported there is an identical entity curated by Metric Media in each state. Yellowhammer News found that Alabama Business Daily’s domain was registered in February 2018.

With the 2020 election rapidly approaching, the existence of this network of sites in Alabama should raise alarm bells across the state.

Alabama was already besieged in the 2017 special election cycle by “Project Birmingham,” which utilized “Russian tactics” by Democratic operatives to aid the campaign of then-Democratic nominee Doug Jones.

Alabamians will hope that this type of disinformation campaign is not repeated this time around through Metric Media or its sister entities.

Secretary of State John H. Merrill has previously warned residents to arm themselves with the truth and to be wary of unknown sources spread on social media, especially.

“It is of paramount importance that the 4.8 million people who make up our state are informed with up-to-date, complete, and accurate information,” Merill has said in a statement. “All election-related information should come directly from our website or from your local election official. We are your trusted source for information related to the elections process.”

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