Reflections from Israel — and how it has changed in the past 30 years


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Read the transcript:

A VISIT TO THE HOLY LAND AFTER THE U.S. EMBASSY DECISION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to review with you something that you’ve been involved with personally — you do this every other year — that is your latest trip to Israel. You’ve been over there for the last couple of weeks. Give us an update on what is happening politically and what is happening spiritually.  

DR. REEDER: Tom, I did ride by the proposed site of the U.S. Embassy. I also stayed in Jerusalem at a hotel that’s next to the old U.S. Consulate. I did talk to many people and, as you would suspect, the Palestinians I talked to, both Muslim and professing Christian, were not happy about it. The Jewish people I talked to pretty much across the board were grateful for it and they felt like, “This is our capital.”

I still am of the opinion it was the right thing to do in terms of normative geopolitics to put the embassy at the capital. It’s the right thing to do, it was done and I think, actually, it may move the discussions for peace further down the road. It’s a complicated situation and you have to understand the War of Independence in 1948.

GETTING TO KNOW ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS 

It’s also interesting that I ended up with an Arab bus driver and a Jewish licensed guide. I had conversations with Jewish leaders, I had conversations with the everyday people who are Jewish and shared the Gospel — our perspective, what does it mean to have a personal relationship with Christ as Lord and Savior. By the way, it has moved from 80 percent professing Christians in Bethlehem now to about 18 percent.

Tomorrow, you and I are looking at doing a program in terms of the denial of security and privacy in terms of public accommodations for the necessities of life, if we can be appropriate in our language, and I actually had the opportunity in one of the ruins site and what did the Romans do, and what did they do from a pagan world and life view and what is it that you can learn from that?

It’s really interesting how you’re able to take a look at our present popular culture and the unraveling of our culture because of the loss of a doctrine of creation and what does it mean that men and women are made in the image of God and what are the sanctities of life and compare that with pagans.

THE APOSTLES INSPIRE US TO EVANGELIZE

And, when I was in Bashan, I also had the opportunity to stand at kind of the epicenter of New Testament Christianity which is a place called “The Upper Room.” The building actually is a reflection of the crusader building, a church at that site, but there were other churches built on that site all the way back to the third century.

And I just said to people, “I want you to stop and think of what happened here. First, the last Passover was here and the fulfillment in Christ as the Lamb of God. Second, the first Lord’s Supper was here. Third, the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2 happened here as the Spirit of God came upon the 120 people in prayer after the ascension of Jesus. Fourth, it is here that they were praying when James had already been killed — that is, the brother of John — and Peter was threatened and, in their intercessory prayer, Peter was free while they prayed here. It was an upper room of a house that was owned by the parents of John Mark. It’s also the place where they selected the disciple to replace Judas and that was Matthias,” which, of course, is the name of my grandson, so that makes it a special place for me.

I just shared with people, “Don’t despise small places and small things. It is amazing what God does there. What God did with these frightened disciples, giving them courage after the resurrection, the power of the Holy Spirit, the lifting up of the name of Christ, 120 including the family of Jesus that got converted after the resurrection and, out of that place was a tsunami wave of a gospel earthquake that has moved throughout the world.”

We also had the opportunity to go to a number of places, not the least of which was the new synagogue in Magdala. It would have been one of the places where Jesus taught. The Bible says that he went to the synagogues around the Galilee — there are seven of them — to stand there and sense what it was on those floors, those mosaic floors, that Jesus stood.

VISITING THE HOLY LAND BRINGS FAITH TO LIFE

It reminds you that Christianity is not an ethereal abstract philosophical concept, but it is something that has happened in space, and time and history. The God Who created men and women, who sinned against Him, so loved us that in no coercion, the Father so gives His Son Who redeems us. The Son comes into the world and he actually has a true body, lives in true places and there is a historical reality to His atoning death — it wasn’t just a concept, His resurrection, His ascension as well as there is a prewritten historic reality that He is coming again.

To be able to share that with people and to see that enhance their life and their Bible go from black and white to color, from 2-D, to 3-D to 4-D in its dimensions, is very exciting, as well as the bridges it opens up to share the Gospel with others.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, you’ve been doing this for a number of years now — I would guess 20 years you’ve been going over to Israel?

DR. REEDER: No, it’s been longer than that. I started in my very first year in ministry, 1982, and now it’s every other year so I’ve been there 15 times now.

HOW HAS ISRAEL CHANGED OVER THE DECADES?

TOM LAMPRECHT: How has Israel changed 1982 to now?

DR. REEDER: This doesn’t sound like much to people, but from a miniscule number of Christians that you could almost count on your fingers and toes, now there are 2 percent of the population that are Christian. There is a movement of Christianity within the Israeli army. There has been the securing of the freedom of Christians to build churches legally that used to not be there. There is the constant development of archaeology that keeps affirming the reality of Christianity and the claims in the Bible that liberal seminaries used to dismiss and now have to acknowledge — “Oh, yeah, there was a King David. There was a Pontius Pilate. There was an Elijah that ministered in the times of Ahaziah, etc.”

Those things have come about throughout the years and all the excavations that are taking place. You also begin to see the dynamic of politics and how they play out in the world: that, on the one hand, the world’s shame at what they allowed to be done to the Jewish people under the regime of Nazi Germany and wanting to “do penance” for that, yet in the Balfour Declaration and in the 1948 Mandate, how the nations — under the leadership of Great Britain, by the way — fell short because they did not carry out the mandate rightly.

Now we have this issue of Palestinian displacement and Jewish development of their home state but, because of how it was not dealt with in the creation of a previously unheard-of nation, Jordan, that was done for political reasons by the nation of the world, in general, and Great Britain, in particular, the very provisions that were made in the original declaration, because they weren’t carried out, they continued to have this issue. I believe there’s got to be a two-state solution and somehow, that’s got to be accomplished.

THE JEWISH STATE SEEMS TO BE PROVIDENTIAL

And then, finally, while I am not one of those that believe that God is going to go back and resurrect the Temple and the sacrificial system as is affirmed in dispensational theology, I do believe that the Lord has promised a gospel movement among the Jewish people and now there are over 8 million Jewish people that occupy this land and it continues to grow as many more begin to come. And I see God providentially gathering the Jewish people for the opportunity that is given to us to take the Gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.

And so, I stand with the reformers such as Calvin and Knox, who believed that is a mandate to Christians. The Gospel came to us through the Jewish people and, while I do not believe that Zionism is a requirement of Biblical Christianity, I do believe the gathering of the Jewish people into this nation is a providential act of God to enhance our evangelistic opportunities and relationships with the Jewish people.

COMING UP TOMORROW: BIRTH CERTIFICATE MADNESS IN NEW YORK

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, on Thursday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to a couple of news stories. One is out of Fox News that is reporting that, in the city of New York, they are considering a new law that would allow adults to change their birth certificates — go back in time and change their birth certificates from male or female to X.

DR. REEDER: Having already declared parents have the opportunity to declare the sex of their children as “undetermined” or “unknown.” Now, what does this lead to, and why is that here and what is the end game of such regulations of such laws? What does it reveal concerning our world and life view and what will it ultimately lead to?

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

14 hours ago

A victory in court for school choice

The U.S. Supreme Court recently delivered a “big win” for school choice and religious freedom. School choice enables competition, which economists find generally improves the quality of goods and services. I believe that this result will apply to education, and specifically public schools.

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue involved 2015 legislation allowing tax-deductible contributions for scholarships to private, non-profit schools. The Montana Supreme Court struck down the act in 2018 as an unconstitutional use of public funds for religious purposes, including any school or college controlled by a church. Montana’s constitutional provision is a “Blaine Amendment” dating to the 19th century to prohibit state aid to parochial schools; 37 states, including Alabama, have Blaine Amendments.

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The constitutional issues involved were the First Amendment’s separation of church and state and religious discrimination in government policy. Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion found the Blaine Amendment discriminatory: “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

The Montana Supreme Court struck down the entire school choice program based on the Blaine Amendment. Although Montana’s legislature could have enacted a scholarship program applying to only non-church private schools, this would have significantly restricted parents’ choice. According to the Institute for Justice, which litigated Espinoza, Blaine Amendments are often used to block school choice. Only a narrow interpretation of Alabama’s provision allowed the Alabama Accountability Act to withstand challenge.

Separation of church and state is wise constitutional doctrine. Still, I do not see the scholarships as violating separation of church and state. The public “dollars” involved are taxes foregone. Church-affiliated schools often operate at a loss, so tuition scholarships will not yield profits to support other activities and presumably provide enough education to qualify as schools.

George Mason law professor Ilya Somin offers an illustrative comparison. No one worries that tax exemptions for religious charities or police and fire protection for churches constitute state support for religion. Tax deductions for scholarships do not establish a state religion.

Church-affiliated schools provide a variety of education consistent with their doctrine and moral teachings. The goal of school reform should be, as economist John Merrifield emphasizes, a diverse menu of options to suit students’ varied learning styles and parents’ values. Church-affiliated schools accomplish this.

School choice policies will make Americans more equal. Affluent Americans, who can afford private school tuition, have long enjoyed school choice.

American higher education features school choice. Alabamians can attend any of the state’s 14 four-year universities or more than 30 two-year colleges at in-state tuition rates. These institutions offer diverse educational options. Two-year colleges offer vocational programs and inexpensive core classes. Four-year universities include one modeled after a liberal arts school, large and small campuses, and numerous online degrees. Federal student aid and loans help make private colleges affordable.

By contrast, K-12 public schools require students to attend their assigned school. After paying taxes to support government schools, many families cannot afford private school tuition. The economic case for public education stresses ensuring all students can afford schooling, which school choice accomplishes.

Choices unleash quality-enhancing competition. Some of America’s best public schools are in affluent suburbs where districts must compete for students because parents can afford private schools. It is tempting to attribute suburban districts’ quality spending, but statistics show otherwise. In 2018, Baltimore city schools spent $250 less per pupil than Montgomery County (Maryland) and $1,000 more than Fairfax County (Virginia) in suburban Washington, two of America’s most affluent counties.

In time school choice will force beneficial changes in public school curriculum. Currently, the curriculum is a political football which both parties seek to control. Teachers educate children in classrooms; politicians in Montgomery or Washington shape learning only through bureaucratic controls forcing a curriculum on local schools. School choice will empower parents to find schools that help their children learn. To successfully compete for students, control will need to be devolved to schools and teachers, which I see as a very good thing.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

15 hours ago

VIDEO: More municipalities opt for mandatory masks, schools head towards in-class instruction, Sessions/Tuberville race nears the end and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Governor Kay Ivey consider a statewide mask ordinance as more municipalities adopt ordinances and pressure continues to mount?

— Are parents going to feel safe sending their kids to school in the Fall?

— Who will win the Republican runoff between former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville?

Jackson and Handback are joined by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss the runoff election for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

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Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at people who think the government can’t put in more restrictions when they have shown they can, and probably will, do more if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t get under control.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

17 hours ago

Alabama sisters continue their family’s farming legacy

Sisters Allie Corcoran and Cassie Young loved growing up on a farm in Eufaula, but once they left home and earned their degrees at Auburn University, they realized their hearts were still at the family farm.

“I always knew I wanted to come home and be part of the farm, but I didn’t know where I would fit in,” Young said. “The only things I have ever felt close to, or had a desire to be a part of, were farming and working with people. At Auburn, I considered a career in family and adolescent counseling, but I knew it would be difficult to find work in this field near home and I was unwilling to move.”

When the sisters were growing up, their family raised crops such as cotton, peanuts, soybeans, corn, grain sorghum and wheat, along with cattle. The family managed a peach orchard.

Their childhood experiences and love of farming pushed them to find their eventual calling, and they opened Backyard Orchards near Eufaula in 2010.

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“Our father had the idea to start a u-pick operation,” Young said. “We had an exciting concept for a new family venture and found the perfect location, so we decided to become entrepreneurs.”

Backyard Orchards gave the sisters the path they longed for in fitting into the family business. They offer u-pick and freshly packed produce.

Fruits currently ripe for picking are peaches and blueberries. There is a variety of fresh vegetables available, including potatoes, onions, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, field corn, sweet corn, peppers, peas and okra.

There is an onsite cafe that serves homemade pies, fudge and ice cream – the perfect end to a day on the farm. The barn, pavilion and grounds can be rented for weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and more.

Under COVID-19 safety measures, visitors are not required to have a reservation, but should follow these guidelines:

  • Stay with your group and remember to social distance while in the fields and store.
  • When the store is busy and social distance is challenged, send one group representative into the store to pay for and/or order food and ice cream.
  • There are sinks for handwashing located in the restrooms. Hand sanitizer is located throughout the store.
  • Pick up café orders from the window located outside on the front porch.

The orchards allowed the sisters to carry on the traditions from childhood that they always dreamed of passing on to their own children.

“Some of my fondest memories are the simplest ones involving our whole family: playing in the cottonseed and corn, jumping on hay bales and cotton modules, riding around with my dad to check on pivots or crops and playing in the irrigation with my sisters and cousins,” Young said. “Farming is a difficult life, but the family experiences have made it a wonderful life.”

Young and her husband have three children: Gardner, 10, Sterling, 7, and Cade, 4.

“Gardner has been picking squash with me since he was a baby,” Young said. “He now helps his dad pick and sell watermelons. Sterling wants to start helping me at the local farmers market. Cade is still too young to help on the farm, but he loves to eat the ice cream.”

Young sees them creating memories and experiences like she had with her sister as a child.

“I hope they all want to play a role in either the orchard or the family farm one day, but only if that is where their hearts lead them,” she said. “Right now, they are growing up the same way I did and enjoying the simple joys of childhood on the farm.”

The sisters continue looking for ways to enhance the orchards and develop the business. Plans are in place for planting blackberries, expanding the peach orchard and increasing the strawberries plants.

To learn more about Backyard Orchards and plan a family outing, visit the website or follow them on Facebook.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

21 hours ago

Alabama native Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative and expanding her own

Sportscasting is a tough business for anyone, but has been traditionally even more difficult for women. That’s why the change in direction for Rachel Baribeau won’t make sense … until you hear her explain it.

“I am always evolving – as a woman, as a queen, as a daughter and a friend and as a fiancee and a future wife – I am always trying to be better. I’m a lifelong learner.”

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Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative in college sports and beyond from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The Auburn graduate and former Pell City resident had a career many would consider perfect: covering SEC football and other sports, from the sidelines and from her college football talk show on Sirius/XM (where she was the network’s first female college sports host).

Baribeau was well-respected enough among her peers to be granted a Heisman Trophy ballot. But it was her work away from the microphone that made the most noise.

“The idea that there is royalty inside of all of us; that there is legacy and purpose and greatness.” Baribeau beams as she describes the impact of the conversations she had been having with college athletes.

Changing the Narrative” was Baribeau’s passion project – a movement that promotes positive mental health and inspiring people to build a positive legacy for others. She took her “Purpose – Passion – Platform” message on a nationwide tour of college football programs, filled with candid heart-to-heart conversations.

After spending four years on this consulting journey, Baribeau announced last October that she would be walking away from sports to concentrate on Changing the Narrative full time.

“I started with this desire and belief that athletes could trend for something other than bad news,” Baribeau said.

Now a nonprofit, Changing the Narrative has expanded further. Baribeau is now in demand in locker rooms, board rooms, law enforcement agencies and entire athletic conferences. “We already have the Big Ten on board; how great would it be to be in all of the Power Five conferences?”

Baribeau is scaling the program in several ways. First, the pandemic has forced a shift to more online training and modules. Second, the material is being tweaked to skew younger for high school audiences. Finally, Baribeau is training a network of other speakers including former athletes who can bring their own experiences of Changing the Narrative to even more audiences.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

22 hours ago

Alabama entrepreneurs can apply now for Walmart’s Open Call for products

Walmart’s seventh annual Open Call is underway for entrepreneurs dreaming of landing U.S.-manufactured products on Walmart shelves by successfully pitching their wares to company officials during online meetings.

“Walmart’s Annual Open Call event gives us a unique occasion to identify new suppliers who can meet our customers’ needs with unique and innovative products manufactured or produced in the U.S.,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president for Global Sourcing and U.S. Manufacturing.

“During this year of unprecedented challenges for U.S. businesses, Walmart remains committed to sourcing products made, grown or assembled in the U.S.,” Phillips said.

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In 2013, Walmart announced a 10-year commitment to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs. Walmart’s Open Call is one way the company continues to invest in the commitment.

“By Investing in products that support American jobs, we are able to bring new exciting products to our customers, support new jobs in our local communities and invest in small business across the country,” Phillips said.

The Open Call, scheduled for Oct. 1, kicks off Walmart’s celebration of U.S. Manufacturing Month and will include programming similar to previous years. In addition to one-on-one pitch meetings with Walmart buyers, participants will have an opportunity to hear directly from Walmart executives and learn from company leaders during small breakout sessions designed to inform, empower and encourage suppliers.

“For the first time, this year’s Open Call event will be virtual, enabling even broader participation from potential new suppliers,” Phillips said. “We know how important this opportunity is for many small businesses, especially this year, and we are looking forward to seeing the new product submissions and meeting potential new suppliers.”

This year’s Open Call attendees could secure deals ranging from a handful of stores in local markets to supplying hundreds, or even thousands, of stores, Sam’s Clubs and on Walmart.com.

Gwen Hurt, owner of Shoe Crazy wine, participated in Walmart’s 2018 Open Call, where a Walmart buyer decided to test her product in 66 stores.

“We were walking into an entirely new and welcoming world,” said Hurt. “Everyone was so professional and kind throughout the process.”

“We’ve been thrilled to work with Walmart and are excited about the continual growth of our product,” Hurt continued. “Thanks to this relationship, we’ve been able to expand our operations to 15 employees while reinvesting in our community through the purchase of a once-abandoned warehouse and additional resources.”

“It’s a dream come true for our family,” Hurt said. Walmart is expanding Shoe Crazy Wine to 118 stores across Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

The deadline to apply to participate in this year’s Open Call for U.S.-manufactured products is Aug. 10. The application and information about the event are at Walmart-jump.com.

Information about Walmart can be found by visiting corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at twitter.com/walmart.