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Feeling any Christmas guilt? Here’s the type you should ignore and the type you should face


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, today, I want to take you to a blog piece written by Mary Sauer. She says, “I have Christmas-induced parental guilt and I don’t know what to do about it.”

In essence, in this piece, she talks about how Christmas can get a little materialistic. She talks about the fact that, when she was doing some online shopping, she said she felt guilty as she realized some children had nothing this Christmas.

She said she was overcome with guilt. “We have so much to be thankful for as Americans. Even the poorest among us have more than some people around other parts of the world.”

How would you respond to Mary’s “Christmas-induced parental guilt?”

DR. REEDER: Yeah, Mary Sauer is actually exhibiting what the original blog phenomena was all about, which was a stream-of-consciousness that was publicized, with her, “Christmas-induced parental guilt.”

Now, do I think there’s a reason for her to deal with this issue of guilt that she articulates? Here she is, buying toy after toy after toy and the stories are filled with children who don’t have anything at Christmas and they don’t have celebration of Christmas.

However, here’s where her statement is wrong: This isn’t Christmas-induced guilt. We always love to put our guilt away from us – we’ve got guilt and we are the victims of guilt and there’s something else that has brought this guilt.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FALSE AND TRUE GUILT

No, guilt is something that comes from sin. Now, that can be a false guilt that’s there, but there’s enough true guilt going around that you don’t need false guilt and people that have an ability to put you on “guilt trips.”

However, one of the things about true guilt – and I think there’s a place for this – our descent into mind-numbing consumerism as a culture that is never more manifested than at a moment like Christmas, in which we have actually made Christmas a GNP issue for our culture more than a celebration of a glorious event called the gift of God’s Son to us to save us from our sins.

And that’s where the gift-giving is supposed to come from – God gave His Son and His Son gave His life to give to us a gift of salvation so think of those three gifts as you approach Christmas.

No. 1 gift: God so loved the world that He gave His Son; No. 2 gift: God’s Son went to the cross and gave His life as a ransom for many, born into this world to save sinners from their sins with an atoning death at the cross; and then, No. 3, God’s Son now offers this gift to us if we will repent of our sins and put our trust in Him, die to ourselves and embrace Christ as Lord of Life and even our very life.

That has turned into things like gift-giving. The famous 4th century St. Nicholas, who would go around and give gifts to children, particularly needy children, and all of that coincided together.

And now what we have is a gift-giving enterprise and the elevation of gift-giving, but, in the secular Christmas, it is divorced from any meaning at all, except “Let’s pump the economy and let’s see what all I can give to my children in order to feel better about what I am not really giving them to that they need and in order to feel better about, perhaps, my neglect of them throughout the year,” kind of a penance act of all of this gift-giving.

That’s not Christmas that induced that on you – that’s your decision as to how you use Christmas.

SHOULD PARENTS FEEL GUILTY AT CHRISTMAS?

I would tell parents don’t feel guilty about giving gifts to your children. What you do need to feel guilty about is, No. 1, if Christmas has become a consumer event instead of a Christ event and, No. 2, if you have detached your gift-giving from the glorious gift of God’s Son and the articulation to your children, “Can I tell you why this gift is so glorious?”

Extravagant gifts are not bad, in and of themselves. There has never been a more extravagant gift than the gift of God’s Son. The Bible indicates that in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son.” You can’t get a more extravagant gift than has been given to us.

God has done much and given much to save you from your sins, but He didn’t do that to make much of you – He did that to set you free from making much of yourself and to know the joy of making much of Him. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever and the gift of God’s Son is what enables us to do that.

Therefore, I would tell Mary Sauer, “Mary, back off – not from gift giving, back off from its disconnect from the glorious gift of God’s Son, who gave Himself to give us eternal life. Not only connect it to that, but tell your children, “I’m giving these gifts to you as a statement of how much I love you, but there is a greater gift from One who loves you much greater than me and that is Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory.’”

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me ask you about another issue, which parallels what we talked about today – it isn’t necessarily related to gift-giving – and that is depression during the holiday season.

WHY IT’S OKAY TO FEEL CHRISTMAS DEPRESSION

DR. REEDER: Yeah, that’s a great question, Tom. I think depression comes from two points. One is understandable – Christmases that have been rightly enjoyed and rightly embedded into our life with loved ones can become depressing times when those loved ones are not there. Now, maybe it’s physical separation because there are some in another location, but maybe it’s also because of a death and that’s understandable.

Again, the antidote is not to deny that depressive feeling, but to address it and to address it with the truth of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

I remember people telling me when my mom and dad died, “Well, you’ll get over it.” Well, actually, I didn’t want to get over it. There’s a little piece of that, “depression” that I think is good.

I’ll never forget when we were cleaning out clothes of my dad’s and my mom said to me, “Don’t move that coat. Leave that coat.” And I said, “Why?” and she said, “Because when I walk in the closet, I still smell him.”

There’s a sense that depression is an affirmation of the depth of a relationship that has been unnaturally broken by death, but now address that that God’s grace is glorious, and God has won the victory over death and our greatest days are always yet before us.

…BUT NOT THIS KIND OF CHRISTMAS DEPRESSION

Now, there can also be another depression that I want people to get liberated from, not in terms of the theological truth that we have great joy that we will have a family circle unbroken in all eternity, but there is another one in which you actually are looking to Christmas to be the savior and then you get depressed when it doesn’t deliver.

We build up Christmas that it’s going to be this great event that’s going to make my life meaningful as we get together, and party, and give gifts and everything and, all of a sudden, who turned the lights out? It’s over. And, by the way, I’m empty and it just never quite delivers.

I was in that circle before I became a Christian that Christmas parties were these raucous events that we were going to get together, and have this party time, and it was going to be meaningful and then you got in the car and you left and you said, “Okay, now what was that about?”

I remember, Tom, being at such an event and just thinking, “Is that all there is to this?” And that depression is a depression that God has sent to tell you what you think will save you – Christmas celebrations defined by the world – is empty.

It’s all vanity, but there is One who can fill you up with joy and overflow in you with love, love of God which gives worship and praise to Him and love of one another, whereby we share the Gospel with the lost and we encourage one another with the words of hope in Christ.

That depression is also a blessing because it’s showing you, you are building something into a Christmas that is nothing more than a fabrication.

THE REAL CHRISTMAS

You come to the real story. C.S. Lewis calls it “The True Myth.” Can you believe this? God has come to save us from our sins and when Jesus shows up, now life is springing evermore. Celebrate the birth of a Savior because, through His birth, you can be born again.

The One who came through the Virgin to save us from our sins, Emmanuel, God with us, can make you right with Him and live right within you and you can be born again. And, if you are born again, now you got a Christmas to celebrate. And use this moment to reach others as well, but give praise to your God.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come, the Lord is come – he’s at work in your life – and the Lord 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.

7 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

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First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

8 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

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That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

8 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

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“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

9 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

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According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

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To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.