Mississippi Conscience Protections Stand

Liberal tolerance is a farce. It doesn’t matter what rhetoric they use as long as the Court continues to treat sexual preferences as race and people of faith as bigots.

 

Back to Reality in 2018

Let us reject the smoke screens of this world with their false promises and hold on to what we know is truly real.

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Legal Blurb Blog

Back to Reality in 2018

By | LBB, Legal, News and Events | No Comments

Strong sentiments about 2017 overwhelmed my social media feeds over the break. As with Dickens’ tale, it seems “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” If I had to summarize the overall sentiment, I would say 2017 was disorientating for many.

It was the year of the unexpected – the surprising and unforeseen. Good and bad, both unpredictable.

It was, of course, the first year of President Donald J. Trump, which is emblematic of the whole concept.  I still remember that New York Times graph giving Hilary Clinton an 80% chance to win the 2016 presidential election and Donald Trump just 20%, just hours before they had to flip the whole thing around, ending up with Donald Trump at 95%, Hillary with just 5%. Amazing.

President Trump’s first year followed suit. Far from the doom and gloom predictions, President Trump’s first year was overwhelmingly positive.  The economy has improved dramatically, ISIS is on the run, he signed a $1.5 trillion tax-cut bill into law, and (my personal favorite, of course) he confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s an impressive year.

But it was not a simple as that, as we all know. A deluge of distractions — from Russia investigations to surprising firings to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un antics — definitely kept the President busy and the public overwhelmed with information and misinformation, unfortunately. “Disorienting” is an understatement.

That’s just one aspect of 2017. We also had the Las Vegas shooting, which left 58 people dead and 546 injured, and that eerie silence about the details of the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. The fact that we don’t know more about this incident still today brings a chill down my spine. What are we to think of this?

Of course, we had Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria hitting parts of the U.S., causing incredible devastation.  Millions of our friends and families were stranded, and many are still dealing with the consequences of the damages.

Those are just the top stories, but we could keep going for hours, and a definite picture of something like a whirlwind inevitably emerges. That was 2017.

How do we handle this? As we prepare to tackle 2018, what should be our approach?

May I suggest we grab a hold of truth?

When you are disoriented, you need a point of reference. You need a stake on solid ground from which to measure everything else. Without that we are lost. If all we have are randomly moving objects around us, we have chaos. You can’t rely on anything, because they are there at one point but gone the next.

Many of you know this. Our chief of staff, Caroline Aderholt, expressed a similar sentiment in our staff devotional time. She said, “When I feel like I don’t know what is going on, I look around and say, ‘Alright, what do I know is real?’”

That’s exactly right. What do we know is real? What is true?

Whatever the chaos is around us, whatever the pain, the blessing, the struggle, the rest, the test, or achievement, only truth and reality can give us the proper perspective to remain grounded and secure, the opposite of disoriented and unstable.

For us as Christians, the answer is simple but profound, because the answer is not a place or a thing but a person. That is what puzzled the Apostle Thomas in John 14, as Jesus tried to console the disciples about the chaos of their times. “Let not your hearts be troubled,” Jesus said to them, “Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Do you know the way? As you look at your life, do you see where you are going? Or are you rattled and anxious about the future? As you look at our country, where do you feel we are going? Which direction we should go?

Perhaps you feel as Thomas did when he answered Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

I confess, perhaps to no one’s surprise, that this is exactly how I feel sometimes. When I focus on the news and social media, on the latest outrage of the mainstream media, I get disoriented and pessimistic. When I focus on the struggles and challenges of my personal life, my vision gets blurred.

But do you remember Jesus’ answer to Thomas? It’s like a spiritual balm that soothes my soul in the deepest sense. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

“I am the way,” Jesus says.  He, the man, the person, Jesus Himself is the way. He is the stake in the ground. He is what we know is real and true. He is what we must get back to.

I know the human temptation is to think of this as some sort of deeply spiritual and philosophical point too high for mere mortals to comprehend. And perhaps there is some truth to that at one level. But at another level, at the level Jesus showed us, to go to Him is incredibly practical. When we go to Him, we find teaching upon teaching that will reorient our entire lives.

Jesus’ parables are about real life, with real practical applications as to how we are to act towards God and toward others.  They apply to our personal and public lives. They apply to policy and the structures of our society.

He is the way. He is the truth. He is the Life. And He should be our aim.

So, in 2018, let us take ahold of Christ and His teachings. Let us reject the smoke screens of this world with their false promises and hold on to what we know is truly real. Clinging to His words, we will move through 2018, not disoriented and perplexed, but with full lucidity and prophetic vision. That is what we need. It is what our country and, indeed, the world needs: salt and light.

No God, No Justice

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The constant cry for justice in our times is tiresome and boring. Like my six-year-old’s toy train’s sounds, they were cute at first. After a few hours, they’re just insufferable. The “justice now” train is not going much farther than my son’s convoy tracking around him in circles as he plays on his knees. They, too, are not really trying to get anywhere. They’re just having fun — while annoying the rest of us.

It’s not that there are no injustices in our polity. Injustices are plain for all to see. The problem is that our response to injustices requires us to define justice in the first place. The childish, emotional reactions of today are so confused people cannot see the irony of their unjust responses to injustice.

Fighting evil with evil brings us no benefit. Who cares who wins that fight? We are left with evil either way. It is evident the Apostle Paul was right to encourage us to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, emphasis mine). That is easier said than done. Once again, the challenge of semantics, with its dispassionate demands, must be dealt with if we are to find some solutions.

However, the spirit of this age is particularly dreadful at this most needed of tasks. Having abandoned all objective standards, we find ourselves incapable of defining anything. “Justice,” “evil,” “virtue,” “sin,” what is all this but whatever you opine? Even more basic, what is “man,” “woman,” or even “human”?

The results of our willful blindness have made us insecure — fearful. And fear is the foundation of defeat.

Can you see that? Can you see that the promise of “freedom” and “equality” of those who urge us to abandon objective standards is a lie? Having tasted the rotten fruit of secularism, do you hunger for beauty and wonder, peace and benevolence, stability and truth?

If you do, I suggest you move towards reality. The reality of the human heart is a good starting point. All other things are outside of us and somewhat foreign, but we know our own hearts.

The condition of the human heart is nowhere better dissected than in the Bible. You do not have to believe in God or the inspiration of the Scriptures to see that. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” asks Jeremiah 17:9.

The picture of man’s heart in the Holy Scriptures comports with reality — what we see in ourselves and in those around us. Even the men of God — think David, Moses, or Paul — do despicable things. “[N]o one does good, not even one,” in the language of Romans 3, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (verses 12 and 23).

In this sense, no one can rightly claim the moral high ground.

But if the Scriptures rightly diagnose the human heart, why not consider its other claims? Might they not properly reflect reality, too?

There is no more important claim in Scripture than its solution to the human condition. It is surprisingly verifiable. For the Bible focuses not on philosophical or spiritual proclamations, but on a person — Jesus of Nazareth. More specifically, a real, historical, empirical event in space and time. Namely, His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead.

This Jesus is a problem. You see, his life was remarkable — exemplary, really. Every standard we can think of when it comes to “good” and “just” comes from His example. The Golden Rule, doing unto others as you would have them do to you, is His (Luke 6:31). His was the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). More profound still, He was the personification of those teachings. He lived them.

Jesus was real.

Facing this reality then, what is our response? If, as St. Augustine reminds us, justice demands “giving every man his due,” what is due Jesus?  Well, we must make up our minds about Him. Is He the Son of God? He said, “I and the Father are one,” in John 10:30. And, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” in John 14:9.

If this is true, justice demands we give Jesus what is due to God. There can be no justice without Him on the throne.

But this is the very thing the spirit of this age denies: Jesus. It’s Jesus that’s most offensive. Even the abstract idea of “God” is okay, as long as we keep the title open for Muslims, Buddhists, and any others. Jesus’ exclusionary claims, on the other hand, are offensive. Dare we say, “hateful.”

Our predicament is plain to see. We have rejected the very foundations of justice and are surprised when the entire structure comes crumbling down. This is what we are seeing unravel in our streets every day to the bewilderment of all but those holding tightly to that old, ancient script long forgotten by most: The Word of God.

Good Work on Judges Must Continue in 2018

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The work on the confirmation of constitutional judges was by far the best news of 2017. Not only did we confirm an exemplary candidate in Justice Neil Gorsuch to the…

The Secret to MLK Jr.’s Hope

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It was a hope that captivated a nation. Still does. In classrooms all over America, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, speech, “I Have a Dream,” still helps weave…

Mississippi Conscience Protections Stand

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This week, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear two cases (Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant ) challenging Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government…

Back to Reality in 2018

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Strong sentiments about 2017 overwhelmed my social media feeds over the break. As with Dickens’ tale, it seems “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Capitol Hill Brief — A Supreme Accomplishment

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  Perhaps at the top of our list for accomplishments this year is the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.  God was so gracious to…

Christmas Celebrates the Unborn; We Should, Too

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“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of…