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Advent and Christmas, ever wondered what’s the difference?


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, today is our final broadcast prior to Christmas Day 2017. Today, I’d like to have a discussion on what is Advent? For many of us, we think, “Well, it’s a season between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.” Is that all it is?

WHEN CHRIST ISN’T IN CHRISTMAS

DR. REEDER: Tom, first of all, let me say something about Christmas because that relates to Advent, obviously, and understanding it. Here’s what’s happened today: We’ve got a little Advent because we’ve got a little Christmas. You got this big secular Christmas out there that everybody’s committed to, but it never fulfills their desires.

Everybody thinks, “Okay, secular Christmas says we can have Christmas without Jesus. We can have Christmas without God’s glory. We’ll have a “secular Christmas and we’ll invent mythologies about made-up people that are actually going to do something for you that know when you’ve been sleeping and know when you’ve been awake, etc., etc.” And we do all of that and it never fills the bill.

We always think, “Well, there’s going to be some party, there’s going to be some experience at Christmas, there’s going to be some nostalgic moment at Christmas, there’s going to be some gift that I get or gift that I give,” and then Christmas Day comes and the head is empty from the parties, the boxes are empty and now you’ve got to put it all back up and you say, “Oh my goodness, it’s Ecclesiastes, all is vanity. Actually, this is just empty – just not there.”

What does the world do with their secular Christmas? Well, they say, “Hey, the problem isn’t what our world and life view is, the problem isn’t what Christmas is now representing to us – the problem is we didn’t start early enough so let’s start in November. By the way, now, let’s start in October.” I saw Christmas stuff out before a pumpkin came out for Halloween.

And then, “I know what, the gifts didn’t matter because we didn’t get a big enough gift. I’ll tell you, let’s get bigger gifts. Let’s spend more money on gifts. That’s what’ll do it.” It’ll always be empty.

THE OTHER CHRISTMAS

However, there’s another Christmas and it’s a sacred Christmas and that Christmas is the celebration that God has come, Emmanuel – God with us. Why is that glorious? We all need to be saved and none of us can save ourselves and none of us can save anybody else.

When we do a baptism, we say, “Father, name your child,” and the father names the child. It’s a wonderful moment when that happens but, in this case, when Joseph named his child, he didn’t get to think it up – he was told what to name his child and he said, “There’s two names,” Matthew, Chapter 1, verses 18-25, “that were given to Him from Heaven through the angel and it’s, ‘You shall call His name Jesus,’ and ‘you shall call His name Emmanuel.’”

Emmanuel because that’s the name that was prophesied in the Book of Isaiah, meaning “God with us.” Here is God, humbling Himself, not by subtraction – He doesn’t cease His deity – but by addition – He takes upon Himself humanity.

Because God humbles Himself, He now comes to be with us and to be one of us in order to take our place before the judgment seat of God and then give us the place that He deserved, which is the place of glory.

I’ve always thought it’s interesting there was no room for Him in the inn, but He made room for us in Heaven. There was no place for Him, but He took our place so that we could have a place and that’s a glorious, wonderful Christmas.

By the way, the Bible ties the fact that Jesus came – the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation – Jesus came to save sinners and that’s what’s glorious, Emmanuel, God with us, because God came to be one of us to be able to save us.

And, now, we’ve got this glorious truth which makes sense of “Yeshuah,” which means “Jehovah saves.” God himself comes to save us. Well, that’s a big Christmas. Well, that leads to big preparation instead of empty parties and empty boxes.

WHAT DOES ADVENT MEAN?

Advent means “preparation.” We have a preparation for a celebration. God came to save us and that will come to a consummation. This same Jesus is coming again who, first time, came and gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and that He might purify for Himself a people for his own possession who were zealous for good deeds.

Here is this glorious, most big Christmas, big celebration and we need a great preparation so that’s what the Advent season is all about, preparing to celebrate “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”

The second thing is that, in our culture, the Advent season is a great time for outreach. We have our big Briarwood Christmas Festival where we have the ballet and the orchestra and I get the opportunity of the connecting tissue of the Gospel. People are coming to hear this vocal excellence of the chancel choir and the chapel choir and orchestra.

This year, I’ll tell you – I went back to my old Star Trek days – I just said, “Jesus, beam me up. It can’t get any better than this. My, oh my.” I couldn’t even go to sleep that night, I was so filled with joy.

And then, of course, we have our fourth Sunday of Advent which are carols and lessons and then Christmas Eve services where people come in and we make a wonderful time of worship and praise for a one-hour service.

And then we end with a Christmas Eve Communion. Why? Because Jesus came to die for our sin so Communion reminds us of the body and the blood and the gift of Christ. We even do a special thing of putting out the tables and so everyone comes to tables while we’re all singing, a capella, great songs of praise to God who has now come to die for our sins. It’s a glorious Christmas Eve service. And then we finish with Christ Sunday – the first Sunday after Christmas – and give praise to God for what He has done.

CHURCHES SHOULD CELEBRATE ENTIRE SEASON

Tom, all of that process is not only opportunity for outreach and proclamation, but it is a glorious opportunity for celebration and so Advent can be used that way. I did not really have that growing up. My family had these traditions, but my church didn’t. It just came up, we’d have a Christmas sermon, and that was pretty much it, but I have grown to love these opportunities.

In the Old Testament, there were three great feasts that were celebrated and, in the New Testament, early believers, I think very intentionally, mirrored that by taking the birth of Christ, and the death and resurrection of Christ – the birth of Christ, Christmas, the death and resurrection of Christ, Easter, and the Ascension and Pentecost season – they took those three seasons and made them a great emphasis as a church because we not only need to fast, we also need seasons of feasting. And our feasting isn’t so much the food that we prepare, but the Jesus whom we celebrate.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, you quoted earlier, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” I’ve often heard that that not only applies to the first Advent, Christmas, but also the second Advent.

DR. REEDER: “He rules the world with truth and grace.” That’s what great Christmas carols do. “He did leave His throne,” and look at the last verse, “When He leaves it again to come for His people.” The really great Christmas carols always tie the two Advents of Christ together.

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Well, Harry, have a great Christmas with you and your family and we do wish our listeners a very blessed Christmas and we look forward to Christmas Day. We will have a special Christmas broadcast next Monday.

DR. REEDER: And, Tom, if I could say to everyone, here’s what’s really interesting: The people that think the nostalgia of family and gift-giving and celebrations during the Christmas season without Christ are always disappointed and it’s always empty but, what’s interesting, when Christ is Christmas, No. 1, the day after Christmas is another Christmas Day – it’s always Christmas for us.

And the second thing is this: Our celebrations, our gift-giving, and our experiences and memories actually do become joyous because we haven’t idolized them, but we have used them because our praise, and glory, and confidence and trust is in the God who came to save us. Praise His name and joy to the world, the Lord has come and is coming again.

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.

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55 mins ago

Alabama city again refuses to release body camera recordings

Officials in one of Alabama’s largest cities stand by their refusals to release recordings from police body cameras.

WHNT-TV reports the city has once again refused a request to release a recording.

The latest request came after a bystander’s video appeared to show a Huntsville police officer punching a suspect while trying to make an arrest. The department cleared the officer Monday, saying the video was part of a longer struggle.

Huntsville City Attorney Trey Riley says recordings are a “public record to a certain extent” but that doesn’t mean they’re “automatically available.”

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Riley says Huntsville will generally withhold recordings while a criminal case is ongoing.

The lawyer says the public can see videos if a case goes to trial, but acknowledges most cases don’t go to trial.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

How the Russia investigation helps Trump

This week, for the first time in months, a generic ballot poll showed Republicans beating Democrats in the midterm elections.

According to Reuters, Republicans are now leading by six points. And while that poll is obviously an outlier, the movement of the generic ballot in the direction of Republicans isn’t: The average lead for Democrats has been dropping steadily since late February, from a nine-point lead to a four-point lead.

Why?

Certainly, the economy has something to do with it: The job market continues to boom; the stock market continues to hover around 25,000; and GDP continues to grow steadily. And, certainly, foreign policy has something to do with it: There are no catastrophic foreign wars on the horizon, and President Trump’s gutsy calls to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem resulted in zero serious backlash.

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Democrats opposed the Trump tax cuts and have whined incessantly about Trump’s Middle East foreign policy, even going so far as to demonstrate a certain level of warmth toward terrorist group Hamas. This isn’t exactly brilliant politicking.

But there’s another reason Democrats seem to be dropping like a stone, too: their Russia obsession. The reality is most Americans think the Russia investigation is going nowhere. As of early May, just 44 percent of Americans though the FBI special counsel investigation of President Trump and his associates is justified; fifty-three percent thought that the investigation is politically motivated. Three-quarters of Americans think Trump should cooperate with the probe, but Americans are skeptical that there is a there there.

And so far, Americans have been right. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has resulted in indictments of Trump associates on a charge of lying to the FBI, but there have been no indictments related to the original brief of his investigation: election collusion with the Russians. Meanwhile, each day seems to bring new headlines regarding the extent of the FBI investigation, dating all the way back to mid-2016. Americans aren’t going to read all the details of the various stories — they’re just going to take away that law enforcement was all over the Trump campaign, has come up with nothing thus far and continues to hound the Trump White House.

Furthermore, Democrats are getting discouraged. They were promised a deus ex machina — an alien force that would swoop in to end the Trump presidency. They hoped it would be Mueller; they were convinced the election was stolen. It wasn’t, and it’s unlikely Mueller will end Trump’s presidency.

So when Trump fulminates about the supposed sins of the “deep state,” few Americans are exercised. Most shrug; some even nod along. Democrats seethe but have no new fodder for their ire — and every day that passes with the media chumming the waters and coming up empty drives down enthusiasm even more. And Trump’s focus on Russia means that he spends less time tweeting about other topics — which helps him, since he’s less likely to make a grave error on those fronts.

If Mueller truly has nothing, there’s a serious case to be made that the Russia collusion investigation actually helped Trump more than it hurt him. And Democrats might just have to come up with a plan for dealing with Trump’s policies other than praying for an avenging angel to frog-march him from the White House.

Ben Shapiro, 34, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.

(Creators, copyright 2018)

2 hours ago

Here are Alabama’s population gainers and losers

Baldwin County long has been Alabama’s fastest-growing county, so perhaps it should be no surprise that one of its towns is the state’s fast-growing municipality.

According to population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, Loxley added 335 new residents from July 2016 to July 2017. The 16.7 percent growth rate over that 12-month period topped the state.

It came in just ahead of fellow Baldwin County towns Summerdale (12.3 percent) and Silverhill (12 percent).

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Three other Baldwin cities also made the top 20 — No. 9 Spanish Fort (5.1 percent), No. 16 Fairhope (3.7 percent) and No. 17 Foley (3.3 percent).

They were among 179 Alabama municipalities that saw growth from mid-2016 to mid-2017. Meanwhile, 244 cities and towns lost population, while another 36 remained exactly the same.

Census figures show much of the rest of the South remains booming. Of the 15 American cities with the greatest numerical gains over the past year, eight are in the region. The South also has 10 of the 15 fastest-growing cities on a percentage basis.

While the biggest cities get most of the attention, that is not where most people live — either in Alabama or across the country. Nationally, only 3.9 percent of cities have 50,000 residents or more. Only nine Alabama cities meet that threshold. The nearly 1.7 million people who live in those cites make up about 34 percent of the state’s residents.

“The U.S. is a nation of small cities and towns,” Census Bureau demographer Joseph Bowman said in a statement. “Of the 19,500 incorporated places, about 76 percent had fewer than 5,000 people and almost half of these places had fewer than 1,000 people.”

Most of Alabama’s populous cities followed well-established trends over the past year. Birmingham retained its position as Alabama’s biggest city but shrank by about a quarter of a percentage point, to 210,710.

Montgomery and Mobile also lost residents. They and Birmingham have lost population since the 2010 census.

Huntsville, which passed Mobile in 2017 to become the third-biggest city, added another 2,629 residents. That was the most of any municipality in the state. Since 2010, the Rocket City’s population has jumped 8 percent. It now trails second-place Montgomery by just 4,933 people.

Among the top 10 cities, two others have outpaced Huntsville on percentage basis. Auburn grew by 2 percent since mid-2016 and is up to 63,973 residents. That is up 20 percent since 2010. And Madison jumped 2.2 percent on year and 13.8 percent since 2010, to 48,861.

Alabama’s 20 biggest cities got a new member over the past year — Daphne, in Baldwin County, replaced Homewood at No. 20. And Prattville swapped places with Gadsden at 13 and 14, respectively.

Here is a look at Alabama’s fastest-growing municipalities since the 2010 census:

  • 1. — Hayden, which has grown 203.6 percent.
  • 2. — Pike Road, which has grown 72.4 percent.
  • 3. — Summerdale, which has grown 60 percent.
  • 4. — S. Florian, which has grown 49 percent.
  • 5. — Loxley, which has grown 43 percent.
  • 6. — Fairhope, which has grown 36.6 percent.
  • 7. —Westover, which has grown 32 percent.
  • 8. — Uniontown, which has grown 30.7 percent.
  • 9. — Priceville, which has grown 30.3 percent.
  • 10. — Chelsea, which has grown 27.8 percent.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”

 

2 hours ago

7 Things: Kushner security clearance HUGE news, paper targets Alabama immigration law, Trump wants to withhold aid from countries who send ‘animals,’ and more …

1. A conclusion that is obvious, but not being drawn: Jared Kushner is probably in the clear

— Kushner had his temporary security clearance revoked months ago, leading to speculation that he was dirty. He just got that clearance approved.

— If he was under any threat of being compromised this would not have happened, so this is big news for the whole Trump-Russia narrative.

2. Alabama is to blame for losing a Congressional seat, not rampant illegal immigration

— The Decatur Daily editorial team accuses Alabama of being responsible because they did not create a friendly environment for illegal aliens, they even took them to task for daring to pass anti-immigration laws (Arizona will pick a seat and they had a similar law).

— Congressman Mo Brooks and Attorney General Steve Marshall have filed a lawsuit seeking to make sure only legal citizens are counted for Representation.

3. President Trump continues to beat the drum on MS-13, threatens to withhold aid for countries who won’t stop them

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— Ramping up his previous rhetoric, Trump added a nugget: He wants to cut foreign aid for the countries that send illegal immigrants and he will base aid on the number of their citizens who crossed the border.

— The ACLU and top Democrats continue to moan about Trump’s willingness to demonize gangs, so he called them “animals” again.

4. The NFL decided having a large portion of their fan base pissed-off was a bad idea, players still don’t get it

— The owners are attempting to end a multi-year controversy over kneeling by telling the players to “respect” the anthem or stay in the locker room.

— In spite of an almost $100 million dollar “social justice” play by the owners, the players have decided to keep fighting, claiming “management has chosen to squash the same freedom of speech that protects someone who wants to salute the flag in an effort to prevent someone who does not wish to do so.”

5. Democrat outreach to middle America continues, proposals to raise taxes roll out

— Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that would undo tax cuts passed late last year, which has support softening under constant misleading media attacks.

— The repeal will coincide with new spending of taxpayer money toward erasing student loan debt and improving college affordability, which doesn’t make college more affordable.

6. Huntsville student sent to ICU after being slammed by a security guard

— The security guard was attempting to break up a fight between Steven Franklin and other students, he was slammed on the ground and hit his head.

— Huntsville City Schools is investigating the incident, the guard is no longer on campus and he will not return for the rest of this school year.

7. If a politician has blocked you on Twitter, that politician violated your 1st Amendment rights, or something

— A federal judge says the president’s Twitter account constitutes a “public forum” and using its block feature silences voices.

— This ruling will obviously be challenged, and it is not applicable to Alabama yet, but if it stands, get ready for people to slide into politicians’ DMs with public records requests.

3 hours ago

2 struck by car in Birmingham parking lot after argument

Police are searching for a driver they say tried to run over a woman and her daughter in a fast food parking lot.

Birmingham police tell news outlets an unnamed 40-year-old woman was hospitalized Wednesday with serious injuries after she and her 21-year-old daughter were struck at a McDonald’s.

Witnesses say one of the victims had been arguing with a second woman and spit on the second woman’s car. That’s when police say the second woman hit the mother and daughter with the red car she was driving.

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The red car left the scene and hit another vehicle. Police are also trying to determine whether a gun was fired and whether that is linked to the hit-and-run.

The driver of the red car could face felony assault charges.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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