Call to Christians: Engage in politics & evangelism out of love for neighbor


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REPUBLICAN COMEBACK?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I remember back when it was 2008 – President Obama had just won the presidential election – and I remember hearing one political pundit say, “The Republican Party is dead. It’s over for them.” Here we are at the beginning of 2018, we look back on last year, and many would say it was a very successful year for President Trump, a Republican.

The president has indeed had some notable successes: nominating Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, the destruction of ISIS in Iraq, the repeal of HHS contraceptive mandate, the Justice Department opening an investigation into Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts and there are other successes as well.

Harry, many Christians will look at this and say, “Hey, we’ve scored a big victory.”

DR. REEDER: Because a number of believers, while having issues with President Trump on a personal level, a number of evangelicals decided, hey, between the choice of someone who is going to promote the death culture of abortion – taxpayer support of it – and the continual dissipation of the sanctity of life as well as the enlargement of government as the savior between the two, the populist president was taken.

As a number of people would say, a number of evangelicals, on the one side, were holding their nose, on the other side, pulling the lever. And most of it was around the Supreme Court justice issue. As I have talked with various people, that seems to have been pretty consistent.

This president has fulfilled a number of his promises. We actually did a program on that, what he’s been successful at and, of course, there have been some notable failures. However, at the same time, when you note all of these “successes,” at the same time, this president’s popularity or approval rating is in the 30s and there are many, many prognosticators that are saying there’s going to be a significant loss by the Republican Party in this mid-term election.

Now, by the way, there are others that say, no, once this economic recovery takes place that everyone is expecting out of this recent tax reform and deregulations that have taken place, that it’s really going to be a substantial victory for Republicans.

CHRISTIAN ROLE IN POLITICS

I think this is the occasion that you and I can make a very simple point: The Christian world and life view calls us to be fully engaged and the Great Commandment calls us to be fully engaged in what it means to be a good citizen as a Christian citizen. I need to vote. I need to be aware of issues. I need to make prayerful decisions about who I vote for, what issues I support and what policies I support.

And, thus, we, in this program, continue to try to look at issues from a Christian world and life view knowing that each believer, the priesthood of each believer – you have the Holy Spirit, you have the Word of God – you need to make up your mind and your decision on these things because to love your neighbor is to engage in politics.

Politics is to enact good policies for the well-being of people. And, of course, the two basic philosophies that vie is the government is savior or is the government supposed to have a limited role but a very important role in a fallen world to restrain sin and to promote righteousness while protecting the freedoms of people and it’s what the people do that is the best way to develop a culture in which there is human flourishing?

FOUNDING FATHERS’ VISION AND TODAY’S REALITY

What our founding fathers understood is that the free practice of religion was a very important issue that was doing two things. No. 1 was that the government was not to pick the religion – the government was to protect the free practice of religion. The reason it didn’t institute a religion is that this is a freedom of the people – it is not a policy of the government. Good policy comes from the religious affections of people if properly influenced.

Now, that’s where we as Christians are delighted to take our place in the public square. Not only the public square to speak about policies in a Christian world and life view, but in the public square to move to another “Great” in the bible and that’s the Great Commission. And there is where the real hope of our nation lies – and every nation – and that is the progress of the Gospel in the lives of men and women, in the lives of families, in the lives of communities and that’s what we want to give ourselves to. That’s what we want to focus upon.

NEW YEAR, CALL TO REVIVAL

Tom, even as we’re still in this opening days of this new year, I would love to renew that call. We will attempt to continue to bring Today in Perspective from a Biblical world and life view on multiple issues, but the real hope of our nation is the people of God committed to prayer and committed to the Great Commission, which is to make disciples of all the nations. And, if we want disciples of Christ in all the nations, then it’s right that we begin with a priority in our own nation.

Tom, even in our own congregation – Briarwood Presbyterian Church where I serve – this last year, we have asked the Lord to give us an understanding of revival, a heaven-sent revival, a God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Gospel-saturated, prayer-engaged revival movement.

Two things happen when God revives His people: there’s a vertical in which they love to worship and there’s a horizontal in which they love to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

They love to share the Gospel with themselves so that they stay amazed at grace, and they love to share the Gospel with each other so that we are encouraged by the grace of the Lord Jesus and His saving work and then we love to share the good news that Jesus died for sinners, He rose again and you can be right with God, we love to share that with people who have not yet come to Christ – share it with those who are seeking, share it with those who are lost and not yet seeking but we would seek them to share that with them.

WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN’S ROLE?

Tom, can we just use this program to ask those that are there, we’re actually calling this year LEAD – a Lifestyle of Evangelism And Discipleship. Do you ever notice how Jesus would say, “Come and follow me”? Come to Christ for salvation and follow him as a disciple to be transformed in your mind.

When you come to Christ, you get a new heart, you get a new record, you get a new life, you get a new home, you get a new family. What you don’t get is a new mind but what you do get is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God whereby your mind can be transformed and you can learn to think Christianly.

First of all, if you haven’t yet come to Christ, just come to Him and put your trust in Jesus alone for salvation and just watch what happens. Your salvation is not going to be in sports, it’s not going to be in money, it’s not going to be in power, it’s not going to be in politics, but it will be in Jesus Christ and it will surely be in Jesus Christ.

And then, when you receive that gift, it’s a gift that you can give away to your family and your friends and your neighbors and your coworkers and then send it around the world. What a glorious thing to do in your life.

And then, those of you who are believers, would you join us in a lifestyle of evangelism and discipleship? Let’s share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those that are around us.

RENEWAL OF THE NATION FOUND IN CHRIST

Now, there is where the real renewal will come in our nation. It won’t come from the Republican Party, it won’t come from the Democratic Party, it will not come from the secularists, that’s for sure, and it won’t even come from Evangelicals engaged in the pragmatics of politics as well as the principles of politics.

We need to be engaged, but the solution to where our nation is headed is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You know, Edmund Burke, an early-on commenter of culture, said this: the key to America was in its small groups of believers in their churches who were preaching the Gospel, sharing the Gospel and in what he called “the small platoons” – the small groups of discipleship was what he was looking at.

That’s what Jesus did: He turned the world upside down. How did he do it? He had the 3, He had the 12 and He had the 70.

Therefore, let’s be engaged in worship to the glory of God and bearing witness with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “He who wins souls is wise.” We have, in the Gospel, the bridge to life – now let’s build bridges in our life so that people can be brought across the bridge to life from sin to the savior.

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.

13 hours ago

A victory in court for school choice

The U.S. Supreme Court recently delivered a “big win” for school choice and religious freedom. School choice enables competition, which economists find generally improves the quality of goods and services. I believe that this result will apply to education, and specifically public schools.

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue involved 2015 legislation allowing tax-deductible contributions for scholarships to private, non-profit schools. The Montana Supreme Court struck down the act in 2018 as an unconstitutional use of public funds for religious purposes, including any school or college controlled by a church. Montana’s constitutional provision is a “Blaine Amendment” dating to the 19th century to prohibit state aid to parochial schools; 37 states, including Alabama, have Blaine Amendments.

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The constitutional issues involved were the First Amendment’s separation of church and state and religious discrimination in government policy. Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion found the Blaine Amendment discriminatory: “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

The Montana Supreme Court struck down the entire school choice program based on the Blaine Amendment. Although Montana’s legislature could have enacted a scholarship program applying to only non-church private schools, this would have significantly restricted parents’ choice. According to the Institute for Justice, which litigated Espinoza, Blaine Amendments are often used to block school choice. Only a narrow interpretation of Alabama’s provision allowed the Alabama Accountability Act to withstand challenge.

Separation of church and state is wise constitutional doctrine. Still, I do not see the scholarships as violating separation of church and state. The public “dollars” involved are taxes foregone. Church-affiliated schools often operate at a loss, so tuition scholarships will not yield profits to support other activities and presumably provide enough education to qualify as schools.

George Mason law professor Ilya Somin offers an illustrative comparison. No one worries that tax exemptions for religious charities or police and fire protection for churches constitute state support for religion. Tax deductions for scholarships do not establish a state religion.

Church-affiliated schools provide a variety of education consistent with their doctrine and moral teachings. The goal of school reform should be, as economist John Merrifield emphasizes, a diverse menu of options to suit students’ varied learning styles and parents’ values. Church-affiliated schools accomplish this.

School choice policies will make Americans more equal. Affluent Americans, who can afford private school tuition, have long enjoyed school choice.

American higher education features school choice. Alabamians can attend any of the state’s 14 four-year universities or more than 30 two-year colleges at in-state tuition rates. These institutions offer diverse educational options. Two-year colleges offer vocational programs and inexpensive core classes. Four-year universities include one modeled after a liberal arts school, large and small campuses, and numerous online degrees. Federal student aid and loans help make private colleges affordable.

By contrast, K-12 public schools require students to attend their assigned school. After paying taxes to support government schools, many families cannot afford private school tuition. The economic case for public education stresses ensuring all students can afford schooling, which school choice accomplishes.

Choices unleash quality-enhancing competition. Some of America’s best public schools are in affluent suburbs where districts must compete for students because parents can afford private schools. It is tempting to attribute suburban districts’ quality spending, but statistics show otherwise. In 2018, Baltimore city schools spent $250 less per pupil than Montgomery County (Maryland) and $1,000 more than Fairfax County (Virginia) in suburban Washington, two of America’s most affluent counties.

In time school choice will force beneficial changes in public school curriculum. Currently, the curriculum is a political football which both parties seek to control. Teachers educate children in classrooms; politicians in Montgomery or Washington shape learning only through bureaucratic controls forcing a curriculum on local schools. School choice will empower parents to find schools that help their children learn. To successfully compete for students, control will need to be devolved to schools and teachers, which I see as a very good thing.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

15 hours ago

VIDEO: More municipalities opt for mandatory masks, schools head towards in-class instruction, Sessions/Tuberville race nears the end and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Governor Kay Ivey consider a statewide mask ordinance as more municipalities adopt ordinances and pressure continues to mount?

— Are parents going to feel safe sending their kids to school in the Fall?

— Who will win the Republican runoff between former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville?

Jackson and Handback are joined by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss the runoff election for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

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Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at people who think the government can’t put in more restrictions when they have shown they can, and probably will, do more if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t get under control.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

16 hours ago

Alabama sisters continue their family’s farming legacy

Sisters Allie Corcoran and Cassie Young loved growing up on a farm in Eufaula, but once they left home and earned their degrees at Auburn University, they realized their hearts were still at the family farm.

“I always knew I wanted to come home and be part of the farm, but I didn’t know where I would fit in,” Young said. “The only things I have ever felt close to, or had a desire to be a part of, were farming and working with people. At Auburn, I considered a career in family and adolescent counseling, but I knew it would be difficult to find work in this field near home and I was unwilling to move.”

When the sisters were growing up, their family raised crops such as cotton, peanuts, soybeans, corn, grain sorghum and wheat, along with cattle. The family managed a peach orchard.

Their childhood experiences and love of farming pushed them to find their eventual calling, and they opened Backyard Orchards near Eufaula in 2010.

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“Our father had the idea to start a u-pick operation,” Young said. “We had an exciting concept for a new family venture and found the perfect location, so we decided to become entrepreneurs.”

Backyard Orchards gave the sisters the path they longed for in fitting into the family business. They offer u-pick and freshly packed produce.

Fruits currently ripe for picking are peaches and blueberries. There is a variety of fresh vegetables available, including potatoes, onions, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, field corn, sweet corn, peppers, peas and okra.

There is an onsite cafe that serves homemade pies, fudge and ice cream – the perfect end to a day on the farm. The barn, pavilion and grounds can be rented for weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and more.

Under COVID-19 safety measures, visitors are not required to have a reservation, but should follow these guidelines:

  • Stay with your group and remember to social distance while in the fields and store.
  • When the store is busy and social distance is challenged, send one group representative into the store to pay for and/or order food and ice cream.
  • There are sinks for handwashing located in the restrooms. Hand sanitizer is located throughout the store.
  • Pick up café orders from the window located outside on the front porch.

The orchards allowed the sisters to carry on the traditions from childhood that they always dreamed of passing on to their own children.

“Some of my fondest memories are the simplest ones involving our whole family: playing in the cottonseed and corn, jumping on hay bales and cotton modules, riding around with my dad to check on pivots or crops and playing in the irrigation with my sisters and cousins,” Young said. “Farming is a difficult life, but the family experiences have made it a wonderful life.”

Young and her husband have three children: Gardner, 10, Sterling, 7, and Cade, 4.

“Gardner has been picking squash with me since he was a baby,” Young said. “He now helps his dad pick and sell watermelons. Sterling wants to start helping me at the local farmers market. Cade is still too young to help on the farm, but he loves to eat the ice cream.”

Young sees them creating memories and experiences like she had with her sister as a child.

“I hope they all want to play a role in either the orchard or the family farm one day, but only if that is where their hearts lead them,” she said. “Right now, they are growing up the same way I did and enjoying the simple joys of childhood on the farm.”

The sisters continue looking for ways to enhance the orchards and develop the business. Plans are in place for planting blackberries, expanding the peach orchard and increasing the strawberries plants.

To learn more about Backyard Orchards and plan a family outing, visit the website or follow them on Facebook.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

21 hours ago

Alabama native Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative and expanding her own

Sportscasting is a tough business for anyone, but has been traditionally even more difficult for women. That’s why the change in direction for Rachel Baribeau won’t make sense … until you hear her explain it.

“I am always evolving – as a woman, as a queen, as a daughter and a friend and as a fiancee and a future wife – I am always trying to be better. I’m a lifelong learner.”

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Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative in college sports and beyond from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The Auburn graduate and former Pell City resident had a career many would consider perfect: covering SEC football and other sports, from the sidelines and from her college football talk show on Sirius/XM (where she was the network’s first female college sports host).

Baribeau was well-respected enough among her peers to be granted a Heisman Trophy ballot. But it was her work away from the microphone that made the most noise.

“The idea that there is royalty inside of all of us; that there is legacy and purpose and greatness.” Baribeau beams as she describes the impact of the conversations she had been having with college athletes.

Changing the Narrative” was Baribeau’s passion project – a movement that promotes positive mental health and inspiring people to build a positive legacy for others. She took her “Purpose – Passion – Platform” message on a nationwide tour of college football programs, filled with candid heart-to-heart conversations.

After spending four years on this consulting journey, Baribeau announced last October that she would be walking away from sports to concentrate on Changing the Narrative full time.

“I started with this desire and belief that athletes could trend for something other than bad news,” Baribeau said.

Now a nonprofit, Changing the Narrative has expanded further. Baribeau is now in demand in locker rooms, board rooms, law enforcement agencies and entire athletic conferences. “We already have the Big Ten on board; how great would it be to be in all of the Power Five conferences?”

Baribeau is scaling the program in several ways. First, the pandemic has forced a shift to more online training and modules. Second, the material is being tweaked to skew younger for high school audiences. Finally, Baribeau is training a network of other speakers including former athletes who can bring their own experiences of Changing the Narrative to even more audiences.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

21 hours ago

Alabama entrepreneurs can apply now for Walmart’s Open Call for products

Walmart’s seventh annual Open Call is underway for entrepreneurs dreaming of landing U.S.-manufactured products on Walmart shelves by successfully pitching their wares to company officials during online meetings.

“Walmart’s Annual Open Call event gives us a unique occasion to identify new suppliers who can meet our customers’ needs with unique and innovative products manufactured or produced in the U.S.,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president for Global Sourcing and U.S. Manufacturing.

“During this year of unprecedented challenges for U.S. businesses, Walmart remains committed to sourcing products made, grown or assembled in the U.S.,” Phillips said.

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In 2013, Walmart announced a 10-year commitment to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs. Walmart’s Open Call is one way the company continues to invest in the commitment.

“By Investing in products that support American jobs, we are able to bring new exciting products to our customers, support new jobs in our local communities and invest in small business across the country,” Phillips said.

The Open Call, scheduled for Oct. 1, kicks off Walmart’s celebration of U.S. Manufacturing Month and will include programming similar to previous years. In addition to one-on-one pitch meetings with Walmart buyers, participants will have an opportunity to hear directly from Walmart executives and learn from company leaders during small breakout sessions designed to inform, empower and encourage suppliers.

“For the first time, this year’s Open Call event will be virtual, enabling even broader participation from potential new suppliers,” Phillips said. “We know how important this opportunity is for many small businesses, especially this year, and we are looking forward to seeing the new product submissions and meeting potential new suppliers.”

This year’s Open Call attendees could secure deals ranging from a handful of stores in local markets to supplying hundreds, or even thousands, of stores, Sam’s Clubs and on Walmart.com.

Gwen Hurt, owner of Shoe Crazy wine, participated in Walmart’s 2018 Open Call, where a Walmart buyer decided to test her product in 66 stores.

“We were walking into an entirely new and welcoming world,” said Hurt. “Everyone was so professional and kind throughout the process.”

“We’ve been thrilled to work with Walmart and are excited about the continual growth of our product,” Hurt continued. “Thanks to this relationship, we’ve been able to expand our operations to 15 employees while reinvesting in our community through the purchase of a once-abandoned warehouse and additional resources.”

“It’s a dream come true for our family,” Hurt said. Walmart is expanding Shoe Crazy Wine to 118 stores across Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

The deadline to apply to participate in this year’s Open Call for U.S.-manufactured products is Aug. 10. The application and information about the event are at Walmart-jump.com.

Information about Walmart can be found by visiting corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at twitter.com/walmart.