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


Listen to the 10 min audio

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.

 

1 hour 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

5 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

6 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