Is it pointless to make New Year’s resolutions?


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TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, one thing’s for sure:We never run out of material on Today in Perspective as we try to give a commentary on the news through the lens of Scripture. Today, I’d like to look ahead to 2018 but, also, let’s focus on what about those New Year resolutions?

SHOULD WE MAKE RESOLUTIONS?

DR. REEDER: Of course, the accepted thing is to poo-poo resolutions, “Oh, that’s terrible,” – and, by the way, as a Christian, you ought to make a resolution every day to follow Jesus, absolutely – but I don’t have a problem with seasonal moments that you just build into your life to go back and evaluate, to consider, to make adjustments to move forward. I do this pretty regularly.

Every summer, I take a three-week sabbatical and do an evaluation of my life and my ministry. I create objectives for the coming year and, every five years, I have created five objectives for my life and ministry to govern me and direct me.

I just think, if you don’t establish goals, you don’t know how to score and you can’t score so take God’s Word, take the truth of the Gospel, take your love for Christ and just begin to work through things. “What do I need to put off? What do I need to put on?” I think those are valid things to do and I encourage people to do it.

Now, having said that, I also understand why people poo-poo this matter of resolutions. And I don’t know how scientific this is, but I just read a survey – do you know why January the 21st is important, Tom?

TOM LAMPRECHT: That’s probably how long the resolutions last?

DR. REEDER: Bingo. That’s what the sociologists that have done an analysis say, that 90 percent of resolutions do not last past January the 21st so that’s the shelf life of our yearly resolution. And this is the time of year that fitness and training industries, they love it, because they’ve got this deal for you – you come in and sign up, you pay them for the year and they know that they’re not even going to have to worry about you for about 11 months out of that year because this’ll last about until about January the 21st.

That may be true but I think, for a lot of people, this is a good time to do some self-analysis and some evaluation so let me just give some suggestions.

1. TAKE TIME TO REFLECT

No. 1, take some time, as you move into this new year, for a little bit of a prayer retreat. Even if you don’t go anywhere, just take some time, just sit down, and pray through and think through what’s happened this last year.

First of all, I’m going to count my blessings, see what things the Lord has done and praise His name. Secondly, where have I faltered? What weaknesses, what cracks have been exposed in my life? Are they foundational cracks? What do I need to take a look at in my life? It’s not simply what do I want to put off, but what do I want to put on?

2. LEARN THE SECRET TO RESISTING SIN

Tom, I have found in my Christian life, one of the great helps for me in my ability to consistently walk away from sin is to walk toward something else. If I can fix my eyes on Jesus and I don’t have my eyes on idols, if I can fill my life with that which is good and beautiful and true and following Christ, then there’s not so much room for Satan to get a toehold in my life and, when he gets a toehold, he gets a foothold, and the next thing you know, he’s got an armlock on me.

Early on, if I could fill my life up with a love for Christ and a love for my wife and a love for my children, that’s one of the best things to do to keep me faithful before the Lord in those things. And fill your life up with a love for God’s Word and those things pertaining to God’s Word. I think it takes about 30 days to make a good habit – I think it takes about three days to make a bad habit. I also think it takes about three days to break a good habit – it takes about 30 days to break a bad habit.

3. EMULATE 4 LIFE CATEGORIES JESUS “GREW IN”

May I encourage you to maybe use our Savior’s formation for your formation. Our Savior’s formation is given to us in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, Verse 52. It says that “Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man.”

He grew in wisdom – that’s your intellectual life affecting the way you live your life. He grew in stature – that’s your physical life. He grew in favor with God – that’s your spiritual life. He grew in favor with man – that’s your social, your relational life.

I take those four categories every year and work my way through them. What can I do this year that I can grow intellectually that will impact my life functionally?

4. READ THE BIBLE

How about a quiet time – do you have a quiet time? Hey, I’ve got a couple of ideas. At Briarwood, we’ve got a little booklet that we can make available to you through our webstore, a one year reading through the Bible. I encourage you to do that – read through the Bible in a year. Through expositional preaching, we look at the leaves on the tree but, when you read through the Bible, you get to step back and look at the forest. I think, about every five years, you ought to read through the Bible in a year. Now, we actually have a little booklet that gives you three different one-year Bible reading plans. I would encourage you take a look at that.

5. DO DEVOTIONAL READINGS

My favorite devotional is called “Morning Exercises” by William Jay, if you can get ahold of that. We’ve got some at our bookstore. They’re hard to find, but they are great. And then I would really encourage you to consider “Table Talk.” R.C. Sproul is home with the Lord, but “Table Talk” is continuing and you cannot know what a great personal or family dynamic to use.

Then, dare I say, either in place of all of the above or augmenting all of the above is a five-minute devotional put out by In Perspective called “Fresh Bread.” You just get our app and, every day for five minutes, we’ll take you through a passage of Scripture with some interesting insights and thoughts. We call it “Fresh Bread” – that’s something I have the privilege to provide – five-minute devotional, “Fresh Bread.”

And you might also include “Today in Perspective.” I actually do both of those – “Here’s my ‘Fresh Bread,’ here’s ‘Today in Perspective.’” And there’s about 15 minutes, in the car, on my way to work, coming home or wherever, get it on the app and that would be a great step forward.

Make sure you’re consistently under the preaching of God’s Word and assembling with God’s people so that you can grow in wisdom and you can grow in favor with God and favor with man. Try to put together a 5 to 15-minute devotional time for your family. Yes, the family that prays together, stays together – it does help to spend time in God’s Word together.

6. CHOOSE (AND STAY WITH) A CHURCH HOME

And then bring your family into the church and bring the church into your family. Unite your family with a solid church. Let me just quote R.C. Sproul if I can: “When you start looking for a church, the No. 1 thing you want to look for is what do they do with God’s Word?” Do they have a high view of God’s Word? Is their pastoral expository preaching each week that will give you a steady diet of God’s Word? Are there small group discipleship opportunities that you can be involved in? And is the church committed to the Great Commission and living out the Great Commandment? That’s what you want to look for in a spirit-filled, God-honoring, Christ-exalting church. Don’t play “drive-by church” if you’ve got time for church. Prioritize your life and your family to be engaged in the life and ministry of a church.

7. SHARE CHRIST WITH OTHERS

And then make a commitment this year to sharing Christ with other people. At Briarwood this year, we’re actually making that a commitment – we’re calling it “LEAD: Lifestyle of Evangelism And Disciple-making.” That’s what we’re encouraging people to consider this coming year. How can you make this a lifestyle?

8. DON’T NEGLECT PHYSICAL HEALTH

And, by the way, don’t forget the physical. The spiritual affects the physical and the physical affects the spiritual, so I don’t want to live to eat; I want to eat to live for Jesus. “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I don’t want to live to drink; I want to drink to live for Jesus. That you bring every appetite under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to lubricate life with food and drink – our life can be oiled and lubricated by the presence of the Holy Spirit. We don’t want to be drunk with wine; we want to be drunk with the Spirit and we want to live for Him with all of our desire to honor Him.

HOW TO CHOOSE WHAT TO IMPROVE

Just spend some time in prayer: What are those things you want to put to death? Let’s put off the old mantle. What are those things that you want to put on? Have yourself anywhere from five to ten objectives this year, get some insight from other people on where they think you can make improvements in putting off and putting on. And then, by the way, get yourself some models for your life, get yourself some mentors for your life and get yourself a band of brothers or a circle of sisters to get around you that you can pray with, and hold each other accountable, be transparent and be engaged in each others’ lives.

There’s my encouragement for the coming new year, but let’s take this year. This is 2018, the year of our Lord. Let’s make it a year for the Lord and, Dear Jesus, make this the last year – come quickly.

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.

58 mins ago

Barry Moore lands Trump endorsement in AL-02 following Oval Office visit

Former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) on Wednesday visited with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office.

After the meeting, Trump tweeted his endorsement of Moore’s Republican campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

Trump wrote that Moore will be “will be a terrific Congressman for Alabama.”

The president noted that Moore was an earlier endorser of his campaign in the 2016 cycle, adding that Moore “is Strong on Jobs, Life, the Wall, Law & Order and the Second Amendment.”

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“I’m truly honored to be endorsed for Congress by President Donald J. Trump. I have never regretted being the first elected official in America to endorse him for President in 2015, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the next Congress during his second term,” Moore said in a statement.

“President Trump has already accomplished so much and kept so many of his Campaign promises despite all that the Establishment and the Democrats have done to obstruct him, but he knows there’s still lots to be done,” he continued. “We must contain and control the COVID pandemic, restore our economy to the pre-pandemic level of growth and prosperity we enjoyed during his first three years in office. We must restore and maintain law and order on our streets and in our cities. We must finish building the wall, and then fix our broken immigration system.”

Moore outlined, “We had great meetings at the White House with the President’s Domestic Policy team. Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council was also there. We discussed a new Healthcare plan being introduced, economic recovery, trade with China, and expansion of opportunity zones in depressed areas. The President has a bright vision for America.”

“I’m convinced that Donald J. Trump is the President we need to lead us for the next four years, and I hope the people of Alabama’s 2nd District see fit to elect me to work with President Trump as their Congressman on November 3rd,” he concluded.

Moore will face Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall on November 3.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Jerry Carl visits White House, gets endorsed by President Trump in AL-01

Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, on Wednesday visited the White House and met in the Oval Office with President Donald J. Trump.

“It was an incredible honor to spend over half an hour in the Oval Office with President Trump and Vice President Pence today,” Carl said in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

After the visit, Trump in a tweet endorsed Carl for the Southwest Alabama congressional seat.

“He Loves our Veterans, Stands for Law & Order, and is Strong on Jobs and the Second Amendment. Jerry has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump wrote.

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“The President is focused not only on his own race, but also on down ballot races nationwide,” Carl told Yellowhammer News. “He cares about the people of Alabama, and we had a good conversation about issues that are affecting Alabama’s 1st District.”

“I’m looking forward to working with President Trump to address some of these critical issues – stopping the spread of socialism, supporting our law enforcement, and getting our economy back on track,” he concluded. “Thank you, President Trump!”

Carl will face Democrat James Averhart on November 3.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Sara Evans is a 2020 Woman of Impact

One of country music’s most popular artists of the 21st century, Sara Evans, has adopted Alabama as her own, and she is not slowing down.

Earlier in 2020, Evans released a new album, “Copy That,” where she covers 13 classic songs, and published a new memoir, Born to Fly.

She came to the Yellowhammer State after marrying former University of Alabama quarterback Jay Barker in 2008. They now make their home in the Birmingham area along with their seven children.

The singer performs and releases music under the name Sara Evans, which is how Yellowhammer News is referring to her for the purposes of this article. Evans does not shy away from her married name; just in 2019, she released a six-track EP titled “The Barker Family Band” which featured herself, her son Avery and daughter Olivia.

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Evans was born and raised outside of a small town in Missouri and began her lifelong connection with music at age four. She had recorded her first CD and was attending country music events by the age of 9 or 10, according to a 2011 interview.

Aspiring to a career in music, she moved to Nashville in 1991 and worked as a waitress while trying to find her big break.

“Three Chords and The Truth” and “No Place That Far,” Evans’ first two albums, were released in 1997 and 1998 respectively. They earned the artist solid reviews from critics but did not make a big impact on the charts.

“If I’m going to have the career I came to Nashville to find,” she told a newspaper at the time. “I’ve got to get on the radio and give today’s fans what they want.”

“Born to Fly,” the album that resulted from this change in sound, achieved everything Evans aimed to accomplish. The Recording Industry Association of America has certified it as double platinum; meaning it has sold over 2 million copies. Singles “Born to Fly” and “I Could Not Ask for More” placed first and second on the U.S. Country charts.

After the breakthrough success, Evans never left the country charts for very long over the next decade; buoyed by singles like “Suds in the Bucket” and “A Little Bit Stronger.”

Evans’ albums “Restless,” “Real Fine Place,” and “A Little Bit Stronger” are certified platinum and five more albums by Evans are certified gold.

She won Top Female Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2006.

Her five most popular songs available on the music streaming service Spotify have been played a combined 101,997,937 times.

Jerry Sharpe, a music writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, described Evans as having a “a strong, spring-water clear voice, which she uses well.”

Evans met her now-husband when they were both in their 30s with kids. They were introduced by Joe Beam, a Christian speaker that focuses on love and marriage who knew them both previously.

“One defining moment was, I made the decision to walk into my office and email Jay Barker and say, ‘Hey, so-and-so told me that I should reach out to you. I want you to know that I’m praying for you, and I’m sorry for everything that you’ve been through,” Evans recounted to music website The Boot.

Barker was the starting quarterback on the Crimson Tide’s 1992 championship-winning team, and at the time when he and Evans connected they had both recently gone through painful divorces.

“He emailed me back within five minutes, and that was definitely a defining moment,” she added.

Evans brought three children to the new family, while Barker brought four.

“Our house is full of children and activities and chaos, but Jay is such a great support to me,” Evans told The Boot about her husband, who hosts a sports talk show in Birmingham.

Radio play by country music stations is dominated by male artists and programmed by male deejays, something that has frustrated Evans in recent years.

She has become an outspoken advocate for more women in country music and voices her opinions on the subject with regularity.

Evans has appeared at events and spoken up for the organization Change the Conversation that aims to gain more representation for women in country music.

“The lack of voices heard on country radio affect not only those who are making music, but those listening as well. Music plays a powerful role in shaping our popular culture. Today’s music does not reflect who we are as a country and sends the wrong message to our girls and women. Too often, country songs portray women as a pretty ornament on the passenger side. It is time to reclaim a woman’s place in the driver’s seat,” the organization says on its website.

Evans has remarked that for her most recent original studio work, the album “Words” released in 2017, she placed a greater emphasis on including female producers and songwriters to give their careers a boost.

At a Change the Conversation event in 2017, Evans said, “When I first got my record deal, women were dominating country radio. We had Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack, LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain, Patty Loveless and on and on. I was fortunate enough to join that group of amazing women.”

“[W]e need to change the conversation and figure out why it is not that way anymore. Why are there not enough women on country radio? Women artists are amazing and they have so much great music that we want to hear and we need to hear, so let’s change the conversation,” she urged.

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Sara Evans a 2020 Woman of Impact.

Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through October 1. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

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

5 hours ago

Baldwin County residents throw parade for linemen amid recovery heroics

Southwest Alabama residents are celebrating the heroic linemen and support personnel who have traveled from across the country to restore utility services following Hurricane Sally last week.

WKRG reported that Fairhope residents on Tuesday night held a short parade downtown to express their appreciation for the power crews.

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The parade reportedly featured bucket trucks honking, with linemen inside waving, to those residents who took their time to line Section Street.

Alabama Power Company has restored power to its service area as of Sunday night, and Energy Institute of Alabama members continue to lead the charge restoring service to Baldwin County electric cooperative members, which was hardest hit by the slow-moving category 2 hurricane.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

Shadowy web of 20 ‘news’ sites operating in Alabama, tied to national network that invented quotes, bylines

A shadowy group of websites masquerading as local news agencies has been launched ahead of November’s high-stakes general election.

An investigation by Yellowhammer News uncovered the existence of “Yellowhammer Times,” which purports to be a statewide news organization intended “to provide objective, data-driven information without political bias.” The site’s “people” section, where one would expect its employees to be listed, is blank.

“We provide 100% original reporting, including to share as much data as possible from government and other publicly available sources,” the site claims. “We also provide a platform for all citizens whose views on issues are rarely heard. If you want a voice in your community, we want to hear from you.”

The website is admittedly owned and operated by Metric Media LLC and its parent Metric Media Foundation, a Missouri-based entity just granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status last year. Publicly available data shows that Metric Media has not yet revealed having any assets, income or revenue through mandatory IRS filings. This means that at this point in time, the organization is effectively operating as a dark money group.

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Metric Media has a glitzy website that asserts, “Metric Media is funded by donations and grants from contributors who care about restoring local news in their communities.”

The website does list a three-person board of directors, which is reportedly chaired by San Francisco-based Rakesh Donthineni. The other named directors are Victor Chen of Los Angeles and Brent Southwell of Houston. Chen formerly worked for then-Beijing TV China, an entity of Beijing Media Network — which is owned and operated by the Chinese government, otherwise known as the Chinese Communist Party.

Metric Media’s explicit presence in Alabama does not stop at the statewide Yellowhammer Times. The bottom of this website links to 18 more sites, all appearing to be local or regional news agencies across the state. These publications are identical in format to Yellowhammer Times and are as follows: Auburn Times, Baldwin Times, Decatur Times, East Central Alabama News, Gadsden Today, Huntsville Leader, Jefferson Reporter, Mobile Courant, NE Alabama News, NW Alabama News, North Birmingham Times, River Region Times, Shoals Today, South Alabama Times, South Birmingham Times, Tuscaloosa Leader, West Central Alabama News and Wiregrass Times.

Publicly available domain information shows that these sites were all registered in May of this year.

That same month, Yellowhammer Times published its first “original story,” which was about COVID-19 related liability issues. The author is listed as a “T.H. Lawrence.”

Almost every story posted since then has been a completely automated story, mainly using RSS feeds to populate the stories on the site. This includes republishing press releases from Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama State University and the University of Alabama. The automated stories also include a lot of identical templates that simply display federal government-released data.

In all, Yellowhammer Times as of Wednesday at noon hosted more than 2,300 stories on the site — with only two listing a human author. The automated stories name “Metric Media News Service” or other entities such as “Locality Labs News Service” as the author.

One short story about lost Alabama tax revenue related to the pandemic simply does not list an author.

The second story to actually list an author, Juliette Fairley, advocated in July to fully reopen the economy and return students to school in the fall. This story was based on exclusive quotes from Alabama-based John Chamberlain, board chairman for Citizen Health. Citizen Health advocates for subscription-based medical services and disrupting the healthcare industry.

Yellowhammer News dug into the two authors listed on the site. Fairley is a national freelance author specializing in finance, while T.H. Lawrence’s name popped up across several sites in Metric Media’s network of more than 1,000 sites nationwide.

Yellowhammer News’ investigation also uncovered that T.H. Lawrence is indeed Tom Lawrence, a career journalist from South Dakota who was once executive editor of the state’s Black Hills Pioneer. He is now a freelance writer and blogger, appearing in local publications (under his real name) such as the Dakota Free Press, American News and South Dakota Standard. He also has his own blog, the Prairie Perspective. It should be noted that American News is owned by national conglomerate Gannett.

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) in December 2019 published an in-depth investigative report that revealed some disturbing findings about Metric Media and its related entities, including Locality Labs. The investigation concluded that the network can be traced back to Illinois-based businessman and conservative activist Brian Timpone.

CJR was able to find at least 450 sites, all linked, operating under the banners of Metric Media, Locality Labs, Franklin Archer, the Record Inc. and Local Government Information Services. The entities at times — while being aimed at different states — shared IP addresses, Google Analytics IDs and other technical identifiers. Since December, the network has more than doubled in size, according to Metric Media’s own website.

CJR further traced Locality Lab’s origin story. The entity was once known as Timpone’s company “Journatic.” Journatic had to rebrand in 2013 following a national scandal over “faking bylines and quotes, and for plagiarism,” per CJR.

The CJR report followed a story published in October 2019 by a Michigan paper about Metric Media’s network that had popped up in that state. More local and national reporting followed, including by the New York Times and Guardian.

Yellowhammer Times republishes stories from other named entities in this Metric Media web, as well. For example, the publication ran a story from Empire State Today of New York.

This also includes another Alabama-focused site not directly linked at the bottom of Yellowhammer Times. Alabama Business Daily stories are republished on the site, and CJR previously reported there is an identical entity curated by Metric Media in each state. Yellowhammer News found that Alabama Business Daily’s domain was registered in February 2018.

With the 2020 election rapidly approaching, the existence of this network of sites in Alabama should raise alarm bells across the state.

Alabama was already besieged in the 2017 special election cycle by “Project Birmingham,” which utilized “Russian tactics” by Democratic operatives to aid the campaign of then-Democratic nominee Doug Jones.

Alabamians will hope that this type of disinformation campaign is not repeated this time around through Metric Media or its sister entities.

Secretary of State John H. Merrill has previously warned residents to arm themselves with the truth and to be wary of unknown sources spread on social media, especially.

“It is of paramount importance that the 4.8 million people who make up our state are informed with up-to-date, complete, and accurate information,” Merill has said in a statement. “All election-related information should come directly from our website or from your local election official. We are your trusted source for information related to the elections process.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn