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.

Guest: Physicians are no longer on the front lines of this pandemic — You are

State Health Officer is a difficult role to fill, especially this year. While partisanship and conspiracies continue to divide us, it is the job of the State Health Officer to make decisions for the good of all people throughout Alabama. This is exactly what Dr. Scott Harris has done for Alabamians during (and before) the COVID-19 pandemic.

After reading a recent article about Dr. Harris, I was appalled but not surprised by the fact that he has received death threats over mask mandates and other preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Governor Kay Ivey enacted the first mask mandate on July 16, 2020, at the recommendation of Dr. Harris and others. After the initial mandate, Alabama’s case average and death rates quickly fell. Neighboring states without mask mandates – including Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee – all continued to rise above Alabama’s average.

As President of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, I would like to proudly declare my support of Dr. Harris and Governor Ivey in regard to the mask ordinance, social distancing guidelines, and other measures to protect the citizens of Alabama. Science and data have shown us time and time again that these guidelines work. That being said, why are there still Alabamians who push against these life-saving initiatives?

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While appealing to a sense of personal responsibility should be effective enough, it has proved not to be. What happens when personal responsibility is not enough, and people are endangering others? Mask mandates. Social distancing guidelines. Occupancy limitations.

Physicians and other health care providers have worked tirelessly to serve our patients, even at the cost of our own health and safety. What if I told you that we are no longer on the front lines of this pandemic, but you are? You have the power and capability to stop the spread of the Coronavirus that has taken over 3,450 lives in Alabama and 1.39 million lives worldwide. All you have to do to potentially save a life is to wear a mask in public, socially distance and wash your hands. These simple actions not only save lives, but can also help our physicians and hospital systems not get overwhelmed with patients. You can help keep your family and our families safe at the same time.

As we head into this holiday season, we can’t require people to keep themselves safe, but we are asking them to keep other people safe. Many people could be infected and transmit the disease to others without even knowing they are sick. I just hope that we can recontextualize the mask mandate and see it as a simple act of kindness to protect those around you. It seems like the least we can do for our families, friends, loved-ones, physicians, nurses, and communities as a whole.

John S. Meigs, Jr., MD is the president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama

5 hours ago

Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear retiring; Kim Boswell appointed as successor

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that Lynn Beshear will retire as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) effective December 16.

Beshear was appointed by Ivey to this position in July 2017, shortly after the governor took office.

Yellowhammer News earlier this year named Beshear a 2020 Woman of Impact.

“When Lynn was appointed, I knew that she would approach her role always thinking of what is best for the people of Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement.

“She has created a collaborative team approach within the Alabama Department of Mental Health to solve intricate problems regarding delivery of services for mental illness, substance abuse disorder and intellectual disability. I am truly grateful for her service to our state and wish her best in her next chapter,” she continued.

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While leading ADMH, Beshear has spearheaded several initiatives to increase access of services for Alabamians with mental illness, while navigating complexities of delivery by the department and community providers.

“It is been an honor to serve as the Commissioner of the department,” Beshear commented. “I am stepping into the next chapter of my life proud of the accomplishments of the department and am incredibly honored to have worked with such dedicated individuals who are committed to improving the lives of others. I profoundly thank Governor Ivey for her trust in me these last three years and have no doubt the department will continue to change the lives of the people of Alabama for the better.”

Ivey’s office in a release outlined that under Beshear’s leadership, ADMH launched Stepping Up Alabama, which uses the national model to reduce the numbers of jailed individuals with mental illness. Alabama is the only state to expand the goal to include ER’s and substance use disorder. It is anticipated that a case management component of Stepping Up will be in place in all 67 counties by the end of the Fiscal Year 2022.

Additionally, three mental health crisis centers were recently announced as crisis diversion centers, with the goal of individuals receiving “the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Expansion of school-based mental health, hiring a housing coordinator for individuals’ stabilization plan, and expansion of early childhood services and autism services are examples of ADMH’s expansion of services during Beshear’s tenure.

The governor on Monday also announced she is appointing Kim Boswell to be the new ADMH commissioner effective December 16.

Boswell reportedly has more than 36 years of experience working with individuals with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and developmental disabilities.

She currently serves as chief of staff for Beshear and has been both associate commissioner for Administration as well as director of Human Resources for the department. During her career, Boswell has worked as a planner to improve human service delivery systems, a Program Evaluator, a School to Work Transition Coordinator, and has also served as the State Office Administrator for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.

“I’m pleased to announce Kim Boswell as Commissioner for the Alabama Department of Mental Health,” Ivey stated. “She has spent the entirety of her professional career devoted to helping struggling individuals and I appreciate her willingness to serve in this new capacity. Her background as a mental health provider as well as administrator makes her uniquely qualified.”

The governor’s office noted that Kim Boswell is of no relation to ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.

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

5 hours ago

Report: Democratic-aligned group tried to register dead Alabama woman to vote in Georgia

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday said his office is investigating four different voter registration groups for potential wrongdoing ahead of the state’s crucial January 5 U.S. Senate runoffs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Raffensperger, a Republican, held a press conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta to outline these investigations.

The theme of the alleged actions by all four groups under investigation pertains to attempting to register people who do not currently reside in Georgia to vote in the Peach State’s runoffs.

One of the groups was founded by Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who lost the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018; she has still not conceded that election. Her group allegedly solicited individuals residing in New York City to register to vote in Georgia.

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Another group, Vote Forward, is alleged to have attempted to register a dead Alabama woman to vote in the upcoming runoff.

Vote Forward is a 501(c)(4) aligned with Democratic groups and left-leaning causes.

The group’s other prominent Alabama tie?

On Vote Forward’s website, the organization cites its voter registration and turnout efforts in the Yellowhammer State as being effective in helping U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) win his 2017 special election bid.

In fact, the website says, “The project began as an experiment conducted by Scott Forman in Alabama in 2017. Encouraged by the success of that test, Scott and a small group of friends and fellow Opower alumni built this platform…”

On Monday, Raffensperger stressed that Vote Forward and the three other named groups “have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting.”

“If they do so, they will be held responsible,” he added.

The outcome of Georgia’s runoffs is of paramount importance for Alabama, as U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will lose the chairmanship of the powerful Committee on Appropriations if Republicans do not win these two races.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has launched a nationwide Georgia Battleground Fund leadership team to aid fundraising in their effort to hold the Senate majority. Led by Karl Rove as national finance chairman, this also includes state chairs and a distinguished team of national and honorary co-chairs.

Katie Boyd Britt — current president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and former chief of staff to Shelby — is the Alabama state chair for this effort.

“America’s fate rests on the outcome of these Georgia races,” stated Rove. “Democrats have not been shy about what they’ll do if Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi run Congress, so it’s imperative every freedom loving American go all in for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler so they’re victorious. I’m honored to work with so many great Republican leaders from all 50 states and D.C. to ensure these two Senators have the resources to protect the last line of defense against the Democrats’ left-wing agenda.”

RELATED: Republican organizer leading team of volunteers to aid Senate races in Georgia

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

5 hours ago

Alabama sets state record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Alabama recorded its largest yet number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Monday as the state’s coronavirus statistics continue to reach alarming levels.

There were 1,717 individuals in the hospital with COVID in Alabama on Monday, eclipsing the previous record of 1,613 set on August 6.

UAB Hospital, the state’s biggest and most prominent medical facility, is currently treating 125 coronavirus patients, a new high for the facility.

“125 patients means 125 patients receiving in-hospital, bed-specific care. These are patients who are either very sick, unable to get better, or potentially unable to survive without medical attention and care,” UAB explained about their hospitalized patients in a press release.

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Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab (BamaTracker)
(UAB/Contributed)

UAB’s numbers include any patient admitted to the hospital with a diagnosed case of COVID-19.

The hospital’s numbers appear to indicate a worrying spike in the Birmingham metropolitan area. UAB was treating just 79 coronavirus patients on Thursday.

Overall, Alabama’s count of new coronavirus cases remains about as high as it has ever been. On average, 1,733 new cases have been added each day over the last week.

Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab (BamaTracker)

Yellowhammer News is using statewide coronavirus numbers from BamaTracker in this piece. BamaTracker is a website that collects and displays coronavirus data published by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Additionally, Yellowhammer is counting new cases as those confirmed by a chemical test performed in a laboratory. When adding results from rapid tests and other methods classified by ADPH as “probable” positives, Alabama’s seven-day average rises to 2,206.

Past trends in coronavirus data show that a spike in hospitalizations follows a spike in new cases by 2-3 weeks. A corresponding increase in deaths follows the increase in hospitalizations by around one month.

All but three of Alabama’s 67 counties reported a new COVID-19 case on Monday, indicating continued widespread transmission across the state.

Of all COVID-19 tests administered in Alabama over the last 14 days, 26.1% came back positive, the highest rate the state has suffered during the pandemic.

In recent days, for every eight tests administered, one was positive, per BamaTracker’s calculations.

Approximately 13 coronavirus deaths were reported in Alabama each day over the last week. The state’s death toll now stands at 3,246, with another 332 listed as “probable” but not yet confirmed by ADPH.

Doctors continue to recommend wearing face masks, staying at least six feet apart from others, and washing hands frequently as the best ways to slow the spread of the virus.

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

6 hours ago

Alabama’s state Christmas tree to be delivered on Tuesday

Alabama’s official Christmas tree will be delivered to the State Capitol on Tuesday, the governor’s office said.

This year’s tree, donated by Robbins Taylor, Sr., is an Eastern Red Cedar arriving from Letohatchee in Lowndes County.

The tree stands about 35 feet tall and will be displayed on the front steps of the State Capitol building in Montgomery.

Following its delivery, the tree will be decorated throughout the week with lights and other adornments before the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

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

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