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.

46 mins ago

Marsh bill to repeal Common Core approved by Senate committee

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama was given a unanimous favorable recommendation by the Senate’s Education Policy Committee on Wednesday.

The bill, SB 119, is now set to be debated and considered on the Senate floor Thursday.

Marsh spoke about this bill during Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “News Shaper” event in Montgomery Tuesday evening after he filed the bill earlier that day.

He acknowledged that he has been a proponent of letting the state school board set education curriculum and standards policy in the past and even stopped an effort to repeal Common Core a few years ago. However, in Marsh’s view, Common Core has been given a chance now and it is time for the legislature to step in.

“It’s not working. I think we have to have some radical change with education policy in this state. And y’all know me, I’ve pushed a lot of things –  public charter schools, the Accountability Act. We’ve got to address this issue and it’s critical for this state,” Marsh said.

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He said eliminating Common Core would “clear the field” so the state could then move forward to better education outcomes.

Alabama would come up with its own high standards, premised on local control, under Marsh’s proposal.

He said his bill is cosponsored by all 27 of his Republican Senate colleagues and he expects SB 119 to pass the chamber and then receive similarly strong support in the House.

“I am committed to moving to a different standard that’s right for Alabama and moves us forward,” Marsh emphasized.

He also advised that there is a high level of politics involved in education decisions in the state but that sound policy must come first.

“[T]he education community, who I’ve asked to get this fixed, who have not addressed this, quite honestly I don’t think has put us in shape to move forward to address the problem at present. But I’m going to do all I can to see that it happens,” Marsh added.

Democrats on the Senate Education Policy Committee spoke in favor of keeping Common Core on Wednesday.

A career public school teacher from Lee County spoke in favor of eliminating Common Core at the hearing, while representatives from the state school superintendents association and the school boards association had concerns about the implementation of new standards.

Marsh said his bill will be amended before a vote by the full Senate to allow another national standard to be used if found to be best for Alabama, as the current language in his bill would ban any national standard from being adopted by the state school board.

Update, 11:35 a.m.:

State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) released a statement in support of Marsh’s bill.

“I strongly support Senator Marsh’s bill,” Givhan said. “The Common Core standards just haven’t worked for Alabama’s students, and the proof is evident in the data. In 2017, Alabama’s 8th grade math scores ranked 49th among the 50 states, and math scores for 4th grade students were 45th in the nation, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Common Core’s curriculum standards and guidelines have been in place for nine years, and they have failed Alabama’s students. It’s clear we need to look at alternative educational methods, with an emphasis on returning as much control as possible back to the local school districts.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Marsh, McCutcheon talk lottery, ethics clarifications at Yellowhammer ‘News Shaper’ event

MONTGOMERY — Speaking Tuesday evening at Yellowhammer Multimedia’s first “News Shaper” event of 2019, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) provided their insight on some of the hot-button topics expected to be debated during the legislature’s ongoing regular session.

Yellowhammer owner and editor Tim Howe, who moderated the discussion, outlined uncertainty in the state’s ethics laws brought on by recent court and ethics commission decisions. Howe then asked the two leaders how they think the legislature can provide certainty and codified clarification moving forward, especially when it comes to defining a “principal.”

“There is no doubt that there’s a lot of uncertainty in the ethics legislation,” Marsh said. “The [Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission] was set up to look over this, but in addition to that, both the Senate and the House – in the Senate you have Greg Albritton and in the House [you have] Mike Jones – working throughout the entire break on how we address this.”

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“And remember,” Marsh continued, “it’s not about 140 legislators, there are 50,000 people in the state of Alabama affected by the ethics law. I’m going to make a plea to my colleagues, some of whom are in this room tonight: If it’s going to be fixed, we’ve got to fix it.”

He emphasized, “[I]t’s not going to get any easier. You’ve got to face the issues. You’ve got to address it and realize this is about much [more] than the legislature. So, I’m hopeful.

Marsh also noted that the uncertainty in the ethics law has “affected economic development.”

“There’s a section there where the economic developers are having problems keeping the [confidentiality] in the process of recruiting industries. We’ve got to address this,” he advised. “And I’m hopeful that we will address it this year.”

Marsh added, “I know that both Senator Albritton and Representative Jones have been in conversation with the attorney general and the ethics commission, as well. So we’re going down a path to try and get everybody on the same page. But we have got to -trust me, ladies and gentleman – we have best fix this. It’s got to be done.”

Howe then asked Marsh to articulate why certainty in the ethics law for economic development professionals is important not just for them, but for the entire state and each of its residents.

“[I]t’s important for the state, because we’re competing with all of the other states,” Marsh said.

He used the example of a piece of legislation passed out of committee that very day largely dealing with Polaris vehicles built in north Alabama and explained that the site selection process requires confidentiality, with most economic development recruitment projects being given code names.

“Because we’re competing against other states. And if we’re not able to keep that degree of secrecy at that stage of the game, we’re at a disadvantage to our neighbors,” Marsh explained.

He concluded, “So this is something that we have got to address. But I’m going to say this: that’s [only] a piece of it. And there’s going to be an attempt by the business community and economic developers to pass the piece. But I think it’s [incumbent] upon us to pass the big picture, solve all the problems, because you want as many people with you, supporting you, to make the changes. Every time you carve off a little piece, you lose some support. So, as I said, I want to help everybody, but I’m committed to the big picture.”

Lottery

Howe later asked the speaker if the time has come for a lottery proposal to pass the legislature and reach a referendum of the people.

“I think so,” McCutcheon responded. “I think it’s been coming for several years. I know that the districts, House districts, that are [bordering other states], most of those districts have seen a significant shift over the last seven or eight years because they see Alabamians driving across the state line to buy lottery tickets.”

He continued, “And people are starting to talk about it, and they’re starting to make it part of their discussion around the dinner table. … At the end of the day, there’s a good push from the people.”

McCutcheon did emphasize what he viewed as key to a successful lottery discussion.

“If we’re going to put this to a vote of the people, and I think it has a good chance of passing, we need to make sure that people understand what they’re voting on,” he outlined. “That’s very, very important. We don’t want to cloud the issue with the definition of a ‘lottery’ and try to sneak something in the back door. Let’s make sure the people understand in their minds what a lottery is and we define it in such a way that they know what they’re voting on.”

“Then, I think the next big debate will be, ‘Where’s the money [lottery revenue] going to go?’ And that will be something that we’ll have to contend with,” McCutcheon concluded.

This came the same day that Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) filed a lottery proposal that was soon after called not “clean” by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who said McClendon’s legislation would legalize slot machines in a select few places in the state.

Watch the entire discussion:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

After 133 launches, Alabama built rockets boast 100% mission success

Thank you to the United Launch Alliance team and the entire workforce surrounding another successful launch.  Alabama’s Decatur based facility brings the utmost precision, passion and purpose to one of the most technically complex, critical American needs: affordable, reliable access to space.

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2 hours ago

Bipartisan bill to regulate vaping set for House committee hearing

MONTGOMERY — Alabama is currently one of only three states to not regulate vaping, but that could soon change.

HB 41, sponsored by Republican Rep. Shane Stringer and Democrat Rep. Barbara Drummond, both of Mobile County, is on the House Judiciary Committee’s agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would regulate the sale, use and advertisement of vaping – or “alternative nicotine products” – in the state.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, both Drummond and Stringer emphasized that their bill is intended to protect the health and wellbeing of Alabama minors.

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“The motivation is simple,” Drummond emphasized. “We are trying to safeguard the teens in the state of Alabama.”

She outlined, “Vape shops, as it stands right now, are not regulated at all… And the bill came about because our drug education council locally brought it to our attention, but [Stringer and I] have both seen ourselves, as well as throughout the whole state, the rise of vape shops. They’re popping up everywhere in the state of Alabama.”

While it is too early to tell what vaping is directly doing to users’ health, Stringer and Drummond emphasized there is an objective gateway effect from vaping use and to smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Right now, there is no data that says what is the [direct] effect that these products are having on our young people. What we are seeing, and this is a national trend, is that you’re seeing smoking not going down, but increasing, among young people,” Drummond explained.

Stringer, a career law enforcement officer with stints as chief of multiple local police departments, said educators from every corner of Mobile County have voiced their concerns with the lack of state oversight on vape products and retailers “saying this is an epidemic and a problem what we need to address.”

“The products haven’t been out long enough to know the problems we could face in five, ten, 15 years from now,” he said. “It’s pretty similar to when smoking came out. There was basically no risk at that time, according to everyone. Now, look at all the data that we have to go with smoking… this is a new product we’re learning every day about.”

Stringer said statistics they were shown from the drug education council show an approximately 34 percent increase in children under 19-years-old that tried smoking after vaping.

“In Alabama, we don’t want to wake up one day and see the effects, negative effects on our kids,” Drummond added. “Right now, we’re trying to be responsible legislators to make sure that we look out for the welfare of our children.”

The two lawmakers also stressed that not only do vape shop operators have no restrictions on them, but the state has no way to even keep track of them currently.

Their bill would make it illegal to sell or give vape products to anyone under 19-years-old. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would regulate retail sales of the products, just as they do tobacco products. Retailers would have to obtain an annual permit, which includes an application fee of $300. Retailers would also have to comply with relevant FDA regulations and post signage warning of the dangers of nicotine usage.

Using vape products in certain places, including schools and child care facilities, would be prohibited.

‘This is something that is nonpartisan, it’s not anything that is about Republican or Democrat. This is something about our young people,” Drummond said. “Because if you look at the amount of nicotine that is showing up in these products, when they first hit the market, the nicotine levels were very low – like five percent. Now, it’s gone up to about ten percent. They’ve got other chemicals in there, like formaldehyde. What is the effect of that upon the brains of our kids? So, this is more of a public wellbeing bill for us.”

Stringer advised that he foresees widespread support in the legislature for the bill.

“Everyone agrees that there has to be some checks and balances [oversight] in place,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

House Majority Leader Ledbetter predicts Alabama to ‘move to number one’ nationally in automotive production after Port of Mobile expansion

Tuesday on Huntsville’s WVNN radio, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said he did not think it would be very long before Alabamians started to see tangible benefits of the Rebuild Alabama Act.

The legislation that was recently signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey after she called a special session will raise the gasoline tax six cents in September, then add an additional two cents in 2020 and 2021.

According to the DeKalb County Republican, road projects could start as early as the summer given the bill will allow for counties to bond half of the revenue the additional tax will generate that is distributed to the counties.

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“I really think it will be this summer,” Ledbetter said. “I think we’ll see it immediately, and the reason I say that is inside that bill there is a mechanism that the counties can use half of their money to bond with. So, I know there’s mine – I talked to the president of my county commission, and we’re looking at bonding half of that money. So if that happens, you’re going to see a lot of paving going down, and I think it will be significant, especially on those roads we can’t get buses across, or you know, the transportation has been limited due to the fact of the road conditions.”

Ledbetter also predicted one of the aspects of the law, which is to expand the Port of Mobile, will generate a positive impact statewide, especially with regards to the automotive industry.

“I don’t think there is any question about that,” he said. “The thing I think we’ll see – Alabama rank third as far as automotive manufacturing in the country. I think we’ll move to number one. I really do. I think this is that big of a game changer. I think aerospace engineering, and some of those jobs going to the port, building airplanes and building the ships – we’re going to move up the ladder because we got availability in the port to bring the ships in and out, the post-Panamax ships we hadn’t seen.”

“You know, the sad part about it is we build all these automobiles in Alabama – a lot of those were being shipped out of Savannah because we can’t get them out of our port,” Ledbetter added. “I think once this happens, we’ll see the roll off-roll on where we’ll be carrying cars to Mobile from Huntsville, from Lincoln, from here in Montgomery to see them delivered, or shipped out from Mobile.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.