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Pastor Harry Reeder: Churches must stay on-mission as evangelists, not cultural acceptance-seekers


 

 

 

 

 

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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, on Today in Perspective, we deal with a number of different news stories.

Each of these stories that we deal with, obviously, we try to hit them head-on and we try to give a perspective through the lens of Scripture so that believers might be able to be salt and light in the public square and take with them some of God’s common grace as we apply his principles to the situations of life.

But, Harry, is there another answer? Is the ultimate answer something larger?

DR. REEDER: You know, Tom, that’s exactly right and this is something that is very important, I know, to you and it is to me. We work from a perspective that you are not an accident.

You know, when I pick up an iPhone, I know that that thing didn’t come together because unexplained parts, I don’t know how they came into existence – somehow got thrown into a place and then, all of a sudden, an iPhone came out. I know when I see that iPhone, somebody designed it, somebody made the parts, somebody put it together – I know that.

Well, when I look at this world, I just don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. I can’t look at everything and not believe that there is a God – it just doesn’t make any sense.

And that means, if there’s a God who made us with all that which is good and beautiful and true, then how did it get marred?

I believe God’s already told us, “It got marred because of your sin,” but this same God is a God of love and grace and mercy so that, while He cannot wink at sin, He has made a way for sinners to be saved and that way is His Son, Jesus Christ, who came into the world.

“A body has been prepared for me.” Why? So that He could defeat Satan, sin, our death, our sin – He could defeat all of it on the cross. And now He has risen, He is at the right hand of the Father, and He offers eternal life. That is what I believe the answer is.

It is God’s answer and it is good news. The bad news is we’re sinners, our sin is ever before us, our sin always takes us deeper into its clutches and there is no way out – our religion can’t save us, our sincerity can’t save us – only the grace of God can.

And that’s what we want to proclaim to people – that’s the ultimate news you just referred to – but we also go a step further.

As you and I work through these programs, we know that this God has created humanity and has established for humanity three institutions that are crucial: the state, the church and the family. They are interdependent, but they are not hierarchical – the state does not own the church or the family; the church does not own the state or the family; the family does not own the church and the state. They all exist under God.

For those who listen to us, you, personally, and your family need to know, “How do I Biblically – that is, in a way that God has revealed – how do I relate to the church and state and what do I expect the church and the state to do?”

The church’s mission, while consequentially it speaks to all kinds of issues, its mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. “You are to go evangelize. You are to baptize them, enfold the believer in this household into the body of Christ. You are to teach them, that is, to equip them to observe all that I have commanded you and I am with you always.”

Our mission is not only the message of the Gospel and the call to evangelism, enfolding and equipping of God’s people, to win, to train and to send people into the world to serve Jesus Christ in every sphere of society, but the second thing is we’re to do it by embracing the Great Commandment, which is “Love the Lord with all of your heart, your soul, and your mind and then, in light of that, to love your neighbor even as you would love yourself in loving God with heart, soul and mind.”

That then leads me into the public arena, not only with the message of the Gospel, but with the truth of God’s word because I love my neighbor.

I want my neighbor to know that, “While you might not have a Christian marriage, you certainly ought to embrace marriage because that’s how God created you.

You may not want to embrace sexuality for the sake of the Gospel the way God has said it, but I still want you to know that you cannot put sex outside of marriage without having terrible consequences in your life and in the culture.

I want you to love life because Jesus loves life and the power of the Gospel gives you the love of life but, even if you don’t, I want the sanctity of life to still rule in the public square because I don’t want the culture of death to destroy people, which I know is what has happened, and is happening, and will happen.”

Therefore, we will speak to those issues, but our mission and our message is to make disciples – evangelize, enfold, equip and send them into the world. Tom, until the church in the United States of America gets back to that, we’re not going to do the job.

Right now, the church is trying to be culture players. There is the left side, the progressive side, that refuses to speak to the issues of the sanctity of sexuality, the sanctity of marriage, and the sanctity of gender from a Christian world and life view because they want to be accepted and they want to be a player in the world of culture.

And then there’s the other side which says those things are wrong, but now the church has become a culture instrument, a shaper of the culture, instead of an entity fully committed to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment – which, when done, will affect the culture – but our mission is not to change the culture; our mission is to spread the Gospel of the kingdom of God to this nation and to all the other nations.

Now, if we do our job well, by the power of the Spirit of God, what will happen? A culture will be blessed. Tom, that’s what we bring. We are actually posted on a number of news programs, a number of stations and a number of websites and I am grateful for all of it, but we are not there to be political players.

We’re there to bring the world and life view that is buttressed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and an insatiable appetite that you and I both enjoy together and that is to fulfill the Great Commission – to make disciples of all the nations – and we want to do that in our own nation, and, Tom, to love our neighbor as ourselves because we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind.

The church doing that is exactly why our founding fathers put in place a Bill of Rights and, in that Bill of Rights, a First Amendment, and in that First Amendment, six Affirmations of Liberty and, of those, the very first one was the freedom of the practice of religion.

They knew, No. 1, the state’s job, from a Biblical world and life view, was not to pick and choose the religion to be accepted because we can’t trust the government to do that. They knew that they wouldn’t trust future governments to pick the right religion. And when that field of religion is opened up with freedom, they knew that Christianity would win the day.

A federal republic ruled by law can only exist when, in fact, you have a moral people, which is why they said America is only great if our churches are great. And, when the church of Jesus Christ did its job, Great Awakening No. 1, Great Awakening No. 2, the revivals that we experienced in the 50’s and 60’s that were of some benefit – whenever it does that, that’s what benefits the culture.

And it turns out people who know how to live with all of life under the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ and bringing the benefit to that culture, all because of the power of sovereign grace of Jesus Christ who loves to take sinners right where they are, forgive them, rebuild them, transform them, and then send them into the world to serve Him in their business, in their neighborhood, in their family and among their friends and that begins to shape a culture.

We’re just on the other side of Thanksgiving – well, my wife and my sisters made that Thanksgiving meal that we all sat down to, those vegetables, oh, man, they’re good. I know a part of what made them good was the salt and it didn’t take much salt to change that whole bowl of vegetables if the salt was salty.

And that’s what we need to make sure that a clear salty message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of light that shines into darkness – salt and light – and watch the light dissipate the darkness and the salt penetrate, permeate, purify and preserve all that is around it.

And that’s why we’ve got to stay, dare I say it again, on-mission, on-message and in the ministry God has given to us believers which includes the declaration of truth and love to the public square.

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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47 mins ago

Alabama watchdog group SPLC to pay anti-extremist UK group in settlement

An American liberal watchdog group apologized and will pay more than $3 million under an agreement announced Monday after labeling a British organization and its founder as anti-Muslim extremists.

The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery issued written and video statements saying it was wrong to include the London-based Quilliam and Maajid Nawaz in a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”

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Law center president Richard Cohen said his organization has done additional research and talked with human rights advocates since releasing the publication in 2016.

“We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism,” said Cohen’s statement. “Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists.”

An agreement released online by Quilliam shows the Alabama-based law center is paying $3.4 million, which Quilliam says will be used to fight anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.

Quilliam had threatened to sue, but its policy director David Toube said in an email the settlement offer came before any suit was filed.

Nawaz was once involved with radical Islamist groups but changed his views and started Quilliam, which describes itself as challenging both Islamist extremism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Nawaz tweeted a video in which he asked the law center to join its cause.

“Too much and for too long … many on the left have been trying to shut down any debate or critique or criticism around Islam especially by Muslims within Muslim communities,” Nawaz said. “Well, this moment should teach us all a lesson and allow us to work together to challenge the triple threat facing the world at the moment and that’s far-right extremism, far-left extremism and, from the heavens above, Islamist extremism.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center is best known for tracking United States-based radical groups including the Ku Klux Klan. Federal tax records show the nonprofit organization reported revenues of $132 million and net assets of $450 million for 2017.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

Survey: Electric vehicles make sense for Alabama drivers

As many as 50 million Americans are about to flip the switch over to electric automobiles with their next purchase, according to the American Automobile Association. A recent survey conducted by the AAA found that popularity of electric cars is trending upwards. With infrastructure and availability all here, Alabama can lead the charge toward electric vehicles.

In its survey, AAA asked Americans if they were considering electric vehicles for their next car purchase. The survey found that 20 percent of Americans say their next vehicle will be an electric car – up 5 percent from 2017.

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The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition encourages Alabamians to make the move to an alternative fuel vehicle, such as an electric car. Electric vehicles offer nothing but benefits, from being more cost-efficient due to cheaper fuel to less expensive maintenance to being environmentally friendly.

Alabama’s relationship with Mercedes-Benz could be a factor in the state’s future with electric vehicles, too. The automaker announced in January it would be rolling out an electric version of each of its vehicles by 2022. With Mercedes – and most other automakers – launching more electric options, there have never been more alternative fuel vehicle options than we have today.

The Tuscaloosa County facility is the only Mercedes plant in the United States, and it will play a central role in the production of these electric vehicles. As these electric vehicles begin to be produced by the people of Alabama, the next logical step is for them to begin driving them as well.

There has never been a better time to switch over to electric. It is a common misconception that it is a hassle to charge your electric car, whether that be at home or on the road. Charging at home can be done through a 120-amp power supply, which is the same three-prong outlet that powers your television.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition is determined to make driving an electric vehicle in Alabama comfortable by assisting in getting proper infrastructure in place. Alabama currently has 84 electric charging stations, and a total of 198 charging outlets scattered across the state in almost all major cities.

More and more charging stations will continue to pop up across the state as more electric vehicles hit the streets. Current electric charging stations can be found at convenient locations in public, and some residential areas. The new Tesla charging stations in downtown Birmingham are just one prominent example. Several online sites, such as plugshare.com, provide charger locations.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition serves as the principal coordinating point for clean, alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle activities in Alabama. The ACFC is part of the national network of nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions that bring together stakeholders in the public and private sectors to deploy alternative and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, fuel economy improvements and emerging technologies.

According to Alabama AAA PR and Marketing Director Clay Ingram, our state is warming up to electric vehicles as the technology and infrastructure begins to develop at a rapid pace.

“We have come a long way in accepting this, in a short number of years,” Ingram said. “We love our vehicles in Alabama, and I think there is a lot of room for (electric vehicles) as the technology continues to develop.”

With an average gas price of $2.91 – its highest cost since 2014. Gas prices are expected to increase over time without any anticipation of dropping. The average American spends $1,400 on gasoline a year, while average electric vehicle charging costs are $540 annually. Unlike gasoline cars, electric vehicles don’t typically require oil changes, fuel filters, spark plug replacements or emission checks. In electric vehicles, even brake pad replacements are rare due to the fact regenerative braking returns energy to the battery.

With all the aforementioned factors in mind, it is no surprise that the AAA estimated a below-average cost of ownership with electric vehicles. Electric cars also are the least expensive when it comes to yearly maintenance.

Since the 1970s, lawmakers in the United States have been putting effort into facilitating the research and growth of electric cars. The urge to reduce carbon emissions has given electric car production a lift. Electric vehicles emit an average of 4,500 pounds of CO2, with gasoline cars emitting more than double that.

This current shift to electric will not only have an environmental impact, but also an economic one. According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States has made progress in importing less oil, but still imports nearly 20 percent of what is consumed. The increasing use of electricity as an alternative fuel will further push the United States toward economic independence from foreign countries.

The benefits to driving an electric car are endless! To learn more about the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and advice on purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle, please visit www.alabamacleanfuels.org.

Mark Bentley is the executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition.

2 hours ago

The Pauline passage doesn’t address the justice of penalties for breaking laws

Scholars and pundits have made their thoughts well-known on the Trump Administration’s biblical arguments for “zero-tolerence” immigration enforcement.

Here I offer one more targeted to the structure of the argument that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made last Thursday.

For review, here are his words, which have enticed the most responders.

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Sessions shapes up his parameters as “to discuss some concerns raised by our church friends about separation of families.”

He continues: “Illegal entry into the United States is a crime, it should be and must be, if we’re going to have a legal system and any limits whatsoever. People who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. If you violate the law, you subject yourself to prosecution.”

Sessions then invokes St. Paul, whose instructions to the church in Rome he summarizes as to “obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”

Here is my primary observation:

The Romans 13 passage is far too broad to address the justness of separating families. St. Paul’s guidance does perhaps provide a defense for the prosecution of illegal immigrants but certainly does not imply that should one break a secular law, any consequence is permissible, simply because a secular authority sanctioned it.

Truly, Paul speaks nothing of the justice of such consequences in this passage. As a result, the only piece of the immigration enforcement puzzle given any measure of justification by St. Paul is the notion that those who have entered illegally have broken a law.

In short, Sessions ventures from making a case for the justness of separating the children from their parents to making a much broader case that laws ought to be applied because God gave secular authority to enlist them.

Sessions’s use of the Pauline passage would not be completely useless for making a broad case for immigration enforcement but considering his starting point, the passage simply does not extend to imply what he implies which is that the result of prosecution, namely the separation of families, is just.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 hours ago

Immigration debate: ‘There is no room for them at the inn’ is a better Bible verse to reference

Americans have been told for decades that we need to have a complete and total separation of religion and government, including ignoring your religious beliefs during policy making when it comes to abortion and gay marriage. But when “children are being ripped away from their parents” at the border, the American media and Democrats have found the Bible to be a useful tool for bashing Christians.

Christian leaders were outraged, Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded by referencing his own Bible verse about following the law, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders agreed. Liberals and their media saw an opportunity, and an MSNBC host started quoting the Bible on-air.

The King James Bible has another verse that we can quote out of context for this immigration debate if we are so inclined:

Luke 2:7: “…there was no room for them in the inn.”

Why this matters:

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If Americans, their politicians, and the media, were serious about this debate it would be about how illegal immigrants impact our society.

We’d talk about the crime some of them bring and the resources that they consume.

We’d talk about the impact on wages and the employment market.

We’d talk about how a person making minimum wage can‘t afford an apartment on their own.

But this isn’t about any of that.

It is about fighting President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, and Donald Trump’s presidency in general. They want more immigrants because they view that as the future of their political power.

This isn’t about reason or even morality, it is about emotional manipulation.

TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

3 hours ago

Alabama inmate recaptured, had escaped hospital through ceiling

Alabama authorities say an inmate who escaped from a hospital has been recaptured.

News outlets report 39-year-old Courtnee Austin was caught after escaping Saturday night. Birmingham police Sgt. Bryan Shelton tells AL.com Austin was bit by a tracking dog inside a crack house and taken into custody Sunday afternoon.

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Jefferson County Chief sheriff’s Deputy Randy Christian says Austin claimed he swallowed a razor blade and was hospitalized June 11.

A hospital staff member had asked that Austin’s restraints be removed so he could shower. A deputy outside the shower heard a bump and saw Austin climbing through the ceiling.

Austin navigated his way out, carjacked someone and fled.

He was arrested May 24 and charged with several offenses including rape and attempted murder. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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