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.

Ainsworth: A little effort can make a big difference in the fight against the COVID-19 virus

Every American was a bit disappointed when the White House announced this week that social distancing guidelines will remain in place at least until April 30, and some governors across the nation have mandated that statewide shelter-in-place orders may be enforced until the end of June.

Working from home, avoiding contact with others and venturing into public only when absolutely necessary can make life seem much like the Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day.” Each day, the temptation to break a social distancing guideline becomes a little harder to resist and the desire to ignore protocols and immediately return to your normal routine becomes that much greater.

But facts, statistics and simple, everyday hard truths demand that we not only hold the course in the fight against COVID-19, but also practice stricter self-discipline in how we act and what we do.

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As this column is being written, Alabama is teetering on the edge of its 1,000th documented case of Coronavirus, and 19 of our fellow Alabama citizens have already succumbed to the deadly sickness.

Every indicator points to the situation getting significantly worse in our state before it begins to improve, and President Trump has ordered additional ventilators sent to Alabama from the national stockpile in order to prepare for what awaits us.

If current trends continue, Alabama’s healthcare resources will likely be pushed beyond capacity by the end of the month, and the number of hospital and ICU beds that are needed will exceed the total number we have in the state.

The good news is that Alabamians can prove all of these projections and possible doomsday scenarios wrong if we just use common sense, take self-responsibility, and follow the rules that health professionals suggest.

Too many among us are still refusing to take the COVID-19 crisis seriously, and by doing that, they threaten their own lives along with the lives of everyone they love and everyone they meet.

Since Gov. Kay Ivey declared the state’s Gulf Coast beaches closed in order to enforce social distancing, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has reported a dramatic surge in weekend traffic on Alabama’s lakes and rivers.

My family and I live by Lake Guntersville, and we have noticed the massive groups of people congregating together, jumping from party boat to party boat, and ignoring every rule about social distancing and self-isolation that the Center for Disease Control has asked us to follow.

It may come as a surprise to these weekend revelers, but sun, water and cold beer are not effective vaccines against COVID-19.

For proof of this fact, just look toward the group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students who spent their Spring Break in Gulf Shores in mid-March. Upon their return north, several of the students have displayed symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19, and all of them are currently under quarantine.

Each time an individual or family decides to strictly follow CDC guidelines and do their part in the fight against coronavirus, the numbers bend in our direction, and all of us get that much closer to safely resuming normalcy.

Assuming Alabama has a daily infection rate of 20%, trends show that we can expect to have more than 245,000 total cases of COVID-19 by May 1, but if through discipline and resolve we can reduce that daily growth to 10%, a little more than 9,000 cases will occur. At 5% growth, we have only 1,600.

In other words, just a little effort and diligence from all of us can make a tremendous difference. Social distancing is recommended because the virus that causes COVID-19 can travel at least three feet when coughed or sneezed, and it can live on surfaces for days.

The rules for social distancing are easy to understand and follow, and they require you to remain at least six feet away from others, wash your hands frequently with soap, sanitize and wipe down surfaces, stay at home to stop the spread, and self-quarantine and contact your physician if you experience symptoms.

President Trump was wise to extend the social distancing requirements for at least another month, but all of us look forward to the day when future extensions will not be necessary. To accomplish that goal, we must each remember three simple things – stay smart, stay healthy and, most importantly, stay home.

Will Ainsworth is the lieutenant governor of Alabama and serves as an appointed member of Gov. Kay Ivey’s COVID-19 Task Force.

44 mins ago

Ivey says small business owners should apply for financial relief right now

Governor Kay Ivey is urging Alabama’s small businesses to gird themselves against the coronavirus-caused economic conditions by applying for financial relief from the federal government.

According to the governor’s office, the final guidelines for how the relief is to be distributed will be released soon.

However, Ivey is urging business owners to contact “their local banker, accountant, financial advisor or credit union” immediately so they can be ready for the resources when they become available.

“I urge business owners to act today and be prepared to apply for assistance designed specifically to get them in front of the line when relief checks are written,” said Ivey in a statement.

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The main source of federal relief available for small businesses is a $349 billion fund called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was created as part of the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus bill.

All the loans administered by the PPP will be fully forgivable as long as two conditions are met.

Those conditions are:

  •  The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and
  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

A detailed breakdown of the Paycheck Protection Program is available here.

The loans are available “through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating,” according to the governor’s office.

Governor Ivey’s full letter to the state’s small business community can be read here.

A breakdown of the U.S. Treasury Department’s COVID-19 relief efforts can be accessed on the Treasury’s website.

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

1 hour ago

Sessions calls for China to be investigated over handling of coronavirus outbreak

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is calling for the creation of a select congressional committee that will lead an international investigation into China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic.

Sessions, who is in the midst of a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat he once held, has made his vociferous opposition to the communist government of China a central focus of his remarks in recent days.

The longtime Alabama elected official said in a statement that he wants a “United States-led, international investigation into what China has done and what it continues to do, starting with the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of the Wuhan Virus.”

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“I am calling today for Congress to immediately establish a Select Committee on China to lead the investigation,” Sessions added.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) have previously introduced legislation calling for an investigation into China’s handling of the initial outbreak.

Sessions’ proposed investigation seeks to go further than any that has been previously proposed.

In commenting about the Chinese regime’s relationship to COVID-19, the former U.S. Senator from Alabama said, “They caused it by silencing those who tried to warn the world, by blocking American and international scientists from coming in to stop the outbreak early, and by faking infection and death rates to downplay the seriousness of the spread. And they are continuing to use their propaganda machine to obscure the record today.”

“They cannot be allowed to succeed this time,” he remarked.

Sessions wants each of those aspects to be within the scope of his proposed investigation, and he wants “responsible members of the international community” to join with the United States to make it happen.

“We have used these types of committees before at critical moments in our nation’s history, including after the attack on Pearl Harbor, after the Watergate scandal, after the Iran-Contra Affair, and others,” said Sessions about his proposed select committee that would lead the international investigation.

Sessions also mentioned that his anger was directed at the government of China — not the citizens.

He advised the public, “We know that the Chinese people themselves are not the enemy— they are the biggest victims of the Chinese government, and exposing the truth will benefit them most of all.”

Sessions promised more aspects of his “Betting on America” plan to address the threat he feels China poses to the United States will be coming soon.

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

4 hours ago

7 Things: Up to 240,000 could die in coronavirus pandemic, WH task force explains China’s role in spreading the virus, Alabama legislature looks forward and more …

7. Seattle to investigate racial slurs

  • In response to increased racism toward Asian-Americans since the start of the coronavirus, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best has told people to call 911 to “Report hate, including racist name-calling” and police “will respond to investigate.”
  • Best said that they “will document and investigate every reported hate crime,” adding that even if people are unsure “if a hate crime occurred, call 911.”

6. SEC has canceled spring meetings

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  • The spring meetings for the SEC that were planned for the end of May have been canceled. The meetings have commonly been used for rule changes for the upcoming seasons, and coaches and administrators regularly attend.
  • The SEC said in a release that they will continue to “determine alternate methods for holding meetings important to conference operations and explore opportunities to recognize award winners who [were to be] honored at the event.”

5. Abortions allowed during a pandemic, but nothing else is

  • Despite the State Health Order to ban all elective or unnecessary medical procedures, a U.S. District judge has ruled that abortions still need to be provided during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • This ruling came after the American Civil Liberties Union challenged Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s suggestion that all clinics should close and medical staff and supplies should go elsewhere.

4. This is the worst quarter for the market ever

  • The coronavirus outbreak has significantly impacted the stock market, and now the Dow Jones Industrial Average has seen its worst first quarter in 124 years, dropping 23.2% in the first quarter of this year.
  • This was also the worst overall quarter for the Dow since the market crash of 1987, and the S&P 500 has seen its worst overall quarter since 2008.

3. Alabama legislature meets, then adjourns

  • Both the Alabama State House and State Senate met Tuesday and then agreed to meet at a later date when it is safer to do so. Some members wore masks and other protective gear on the floor and kept their distance while huddled into groups discussing state business.
  • When the legislature returns they will have two areas of focus, according to State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia): economic stimulus and “bare-bones” budgets.

2. WH task force attempts to help the media understand China 

  • During questioning from reporters to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Deborah Birx highlighted how China’s disinformation hindered the United States’ response because they “were missing a significant amount of the data” from China. Birx added that the data from Spain and Italy tell a more accurate picture.
  • Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session called for a total reset of our relationship with China, saying, “America must now fundamentally reset our relationship with China. This is no time for half-measures or a slap on the wrist. This Chinese-made global health crisis should be a wake-up call. China is lying and people are dying. Enough is enough.”

1. “Painful two weeks”

  • In a rather grim press conference, President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force said the nation is on track to see between 100,000 and up to 240,000 deaths.
  • Trump appeared to be attempting to set expectations and show the nation the worst-case scenario, saying, “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”

6 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Rick Pate: ‘We’ve got a safe, abundant, sustainable food supply here in Alabama’

On Tuesday, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate reiterated his sentiment about the stability of Alabama’s food supply not being a cause for concern during an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN.

Pate told “The Jeff Poor Show” that despite a run of grocery stores and other retailers in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, the in-state food supply remains safe and abundant.

However, during the wide-ranging interview, he said the coronavirus spread had not come without some challenges for Alabama’s farmers, including labor difficulties as legal migrant workers are no longer able to come to Alabama with the closure of borders.

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Nonetheless, he assured listeners there was no threat to the food supply.

“People go in the grocery stores, and they see shortages – but I want to promise you we can sustain that, and we’ll refill that two days from now, two weeks from now, two months from now, two years from now,” Pate said. “Our food supply in this country is secure. It’s abundant. It’s safe. And the thing is – our government officials, at least around food, haven’t given me any indication that they don’t understand that – the federal USDA people, the Homeland Security people, our own state governor’s office, our own public health.”

“I mean, anything is possible,” he continued. “But we’ve got a safe, abundant, sustainable food supply here in Alabama, and I would assume across most of the country.”

Pate urged those to be in touch with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI), either through the website or by phone (334) 240-7100, for further information about farming issues or to verify something is misinformation or rumor.

“[Y]ou might hear some rumors,” he said. “I’d like to know what they are because you might hear some rumors.”

Pate recounted a smaller stockyard that was under the impression the state government wanted it to shut down because to prevent the coronavirus spread.

“I don’t want you to close down,” he said. “I don’t even want the rumor that the smallest one in the state closed down. It will get said all the stockyards in the state are closing down. That’s just not the case. Every stockyard is still up and running, cattle being sold.”

Pate added that while demand is up at the consumer for some agriculture products, prices are low. He also warned of continued falling prices for beef given it is a staple of many upper-end restaurants that are unable to serve dine-in customers due to the pandemic.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.