Category Archives: Faith

PLUNKETT: Virulent opponents of HB 1523 are only ones demanding that individuals pick sides in same-sex marriage debate.


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BY: B. Keith Plunkett  @Keithplunkett

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. . . . those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”~C.S. Lewis

The public debate over the passage and subsequent signing into law of House Bill 1523 in Mississippi reached ridiculous proportions rather quickly. Comments from celebrities and politicians from across the country took our state to task for being “bigots” and codifying “discrimination” into law. It hardly mattered that the bill does none of those things. It offered another chance for many to jump on the bandwagon to condemn our state for a so-called lack of tolerance. But exactly who is being intolerant here? 

As has been clearly stated many times the law positions the state as neutral in the case of conflicting rights. HB 1523 says that the State of Mississippi will not pick sides. It reaffirms the rights of religious objection as a counter balance. The state will take no action when it comes to individuals exercising their God-given, constitutionally-recognized right to the free practice of their religion by refusing to participate in the practice of same-sex marriage. Even the new laws allowance for clerks to practice their religious objection and to recuse themselves from issuing marriage license to same-sex couples requires that they “take all necessary steps to ensure that the authorization and licensing of any legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal.”

Yet in the name of tolerance we are subjected to the least tolerant position of all, namely that it is now not enough that there be a legal pathway to marriage for homosexuals. The goalposts have been moved again. Now the expectation is to forcibly require people to publicly uphold a stance against their conscience and beliefs. In other words, it’s not enough anymore for there to be a personal objection, nor even a position of neutrality. You are either for same-sex marriage and against HB 1523 or you are a bigot. There is no middle ground. 

Case in point, the position of Mayor Billy Hewes of Gulfport. Mayor Hewes when asked whether he was for or against the new law took no public position. His statement was that the City of Gulfport did not discriminate in any way in its hiring or services, as it should be. That should have been the end of the story. But, it’s high fashion these days to demand others take a position, so Sun Herald reporter Anita Lee just couldn’t accept that the City of Gulfport’s long standing policies were still the same long-standing policies.

So she harassed the mayor, and has written at least three articles calling into question his past support, when in the state senate in 2004, for a bill supporting marriage between one man and one woman. 

To his credit here is the mayors full response to Mrs. Lee’s attacks:

“Not sure what I did to get singled out on Anita Lee’s personal radar over an issue I had nothing to do with, but her targeted crusade in the Sun Herald and social media this past week has gone from inquiry, to harassment, to bullying.

“A lie unchallenged becomes the truth. Ms. Lee knows the reasons for my non-response to her story, and it had nothing to do with HB 1523. It was about biased reporting on other articles pertaining to Gulfport. That’s why I was “done.” I also told her I would not comment on the legislative act, because it is just that – a legislative matter, but that little fact wasn’t reported either. 

“What I did say is that I am more than happy to talk about municipal matters which we have control over – the City of Gulfport and our coastal community, where we do not engage in or condone discriminatory actions. Simply put, our City is about character and conduct. Folks are not asked for their pedigree, family history, or personal persuasion here. If they are good people who want to make a positive difference, then the Welcome Mat is always out.  

“Now she is asking about a piece of legislation from 2004, Senate Concurrent Resolution 519, which was passed when I WAS in the legislature and which I DID vote for. It was memorializing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. She wanted to know if my position has changed. It has not. I have always believed that, but I’m not hateful about it. I have every right to my own opinion and won’t be shamed for it. By the same token, I won’t persecute or condemn others for theirs. I may debate it with them, but I will not judge or be uncivil. Every difference of opinion is not a declaration of war.

“Having said that, I acknowledge that I don’t have all the answers, that you get what you give, that every person has great worth, that we have so much more in common than we do differences, and that my Christ is a loving and compassionate God. His greatest Commandment is that we treat others as we would like to be treated. The door of tolerance should swing both ways.

“So, when it comes to the character of our community, the answer is clear. There is not one example that can be pointed to where Gulfport has adopted discriminatory policies or taken such action – and we’re not about to. Gulfport is truly “Open for Business and Geared for a Good Time.”

“We are many people and One Coast. I will not be a party to any action that discriminates against businesses or individuals, nor will I be used as a pawn to further one’s agenda of divisiveness.”

Mayor Hewes had nothing to do with the recent passage of HB 1523, and the City of Gulfport hasn’t changed any policy related to treatment of anyone based on their race, religion or sexual orientation, yet his personal past position that marriage is between one man and one woman means he is now a target.

Let me say, as many may already know, Mayor Billy Hewes and his entire family are very dear friends, the kind that if I needed them I know without a doubt that they would be there for me or mine. The Hewes family are very strong believers. I’ve seen the dedication to their faith first hand many times, and I and my family have been blessed to witness and participate alongside them in that faith in action many times. They are dedicated servants of the Gulf Coast community and this state.

I believe I can say clearly that while Mayor Hewes holds positions consistent with his faith that he reaches out in good will and kindness to everyone. For him to be on the receiving end of such an attack shows very clearly the steps the media and the agenda driven will go in denying anyone their own personal faith on the subject of homosexual marriage.

This is how far we have fallen, when calls for tolerance become themselves intolerant. Rather than rise to the challenge to defend a position, the homosexual “equality” argument is being thrust upon the reasoned and rational with the religious fervor of radical Islamic jihadists. In other words, it is beyond debate or tolerance to disagree and any disagreement, whether privately held or publicly stated, cannot be accepted. The appointed gods in the black robes have had their say, and now a newly recognized special class of citizens plan to beat people about the head with it. 

Justice Antonin Scalia revealed this all-or-nothing bias within the judiciary in his dissenting opinion regarding the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013:

To defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans [the Supreme Court]. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”  

How is it that thousands of years of social and cultural progress, acceptance of the scientific reality of the biological family unit as key for healthy functioning individuals, and understanding of the very foundation of the survival of humanity itself can be so easily rendered obsolete within the space of 40 years? Why is it that what began as a movement to gain freedom of a sexual lifestyle to come “out of the closet” has now devolved into demands that any speech that shows a belief to the contrary, or any practice that doesn’t accept and condone such behavior, be outlawed?

And why the demands that even those who take a public position of neutrality must go further and publicly state their undying allegiance to the new normal?

There are more than a few folks who think HB 1523 was a law passed without cause and that maybe the state should have left well-enough alone. The Neshoba County Democrat argued that the passage of the law was unprovoked by the circumstances. Although there are numerous examples of government sanctioned punishment of private individuals across the country for practicing their faith, there have not yet been any major examples in Mississippi. So states the Democrats nameless, faceless “editorial”. The editorial concludes “Stand on principle, that’s fine, but keep the government out of it.” 

Perhaps the writer(s) of the editorial should have read the actual bill, because that is exactly what HB 1523 reaffirms.  

Wyatt Emmerich, owner and editor of many community newspapers across the state has touted Christian faith itself as reason to be against HB 1523. According to Emmerich, there is “room for reasonable Christian discussion on this issue” and “the Bible has no record” of “Jesus expounding on the issue of homosexuality.” 

When people say, “Jesus said nothing about homosexuality,” they reveal that they really haven’t understood Scripture, or Who Christ was and is. He clearly gave warnings about sexual immorality in discussing Sodom and Gomorrah, which anyone who knows their Good Book knows was a hotbed of homosexual perversion (Matthew 10:15, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12, and Luke 17:29). He spoke out against sex outside of marriage, which he clearly recognized as a union between a man and woman (Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9). Jesus also didn’t speak of incest, rape or of domestic abuse. Are we to assume that those are okay with Mr. Emmerich’s faith, too?

Claiming a position against HB 1523 based on theology simply doesn’t fly. 

Emmerich also concludes that “the government needs to stay out of it.”

Again, a quick read of the bill shows that is exactly what HB 1523 reaffirms, a secular state government position of neutrality. There will be no action by the state to pick sides when it comes to these conflicting rights. The state will “stay out of it”. 

Bigotry requires action in order for it to be “bigoted”. Belief in the biblical definition of marriage, whether privately or publicly held, as Scalia noted in 2013, does not demean those who believe otherwise. The action for those who want to make issue of it is the state recognition of religious conscience in these matters. If that is bigotry then millions of Christians across Mississippi fit the description, which is exactly what progressives want you to believe. 

Like in the case of Mayor Hewes, it is not good enough to refuse to take a public position. Reaffirming a position of neutrality, whether by government or the individual, is the same to progressives and much of the media as bigotry, which is interestingly the exact same position taken by the progressives and Leftists who have been heaping their demands upon society to begin with.

Only one side of this crazy debate is demanding you support them or they will declare you an enemy of all that is right. Only one side is demanding absolute allegiance. It’s not those who believe in balanced Liberty; religious, individual or otherwise.

And while we’re recognizing the irony of intolerance in the name of tolerance, we should also note that taking the Liberty one has to boycott, or to refuse to do business within Mississippi based on ones beliefs, because the state passed a law that reaffirms the right of Mississippians to do that very same thing–this is the height of hypocrisy.

Keith Plunkett is the Policy and Communications Director for the United Conservatives Fund. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, government agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by email at keith@unitedconservativesfund.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett

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Abraham’s Life of Faith


  

BY: Oswald Chambers

He went out, not knowing where he was going. —Hebrews 11:8

In the Old Testament, a person’s relationship with God was seen by the degree of separation in that person’s life. This separation is exhibited in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and his family. When we think of separation today, we do not mean to be literally separated from those family members who do not have a personal relationship with God, but to be separated mentally and morally from their viewpoints. This is what Jesus Christ was referring to in Luke 14:26.

Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason— a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.

The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process. We feel the presence of God around us when we pray, yet we are only momentarily changed. We tend to keep going back to our everyday ways and the glory vanishes. A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day-in and day-out consistency; a life of walking without fainting (see Isaiah 40:31). It is not even a question of the holiness of sanctification, but of something which comes much farther down the road. It is a faith that has been tried and proved and has withstood the test. Abraham is not a type or an example of the holiness of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith— a faith, tested and true, built on the true God. “Abraham believed God…” (Romans 4:3).

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Clarion Ledger article highlights atheist groups award to “ex-Christian” Mississippian


  

The Clarion Ledger yesterday highlighted University of Mississippi senior Holly Baer, the first recipient of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Yip Harburg Youth Activist Award. Oddly enough, Miss Baer is pursuing a degree in religious studies from Ole Miss. 

Baer received the award for writing an article critical of the Collins community for their support of Christmas decorations in the city park. 

“Baer’s article didn’t focus on the nature of the display, but the way that the people of Collins reacted to the complaint.

“It was kind of crazy,” Baer said. “A lot of people were talking about running (the complainer) out of town.”

“Residents even held a “Rally for Christmas” at a town hall meeting, during which the mayor vowed to keep the decorations up.

“Many of Baer’s family members attended.

Shoemake said the rally was peaceful and she did not hear any of the negative comments Baer cited.

“The next week, Baer’s name appeared on an article that shed light on the vitriol of some Christians and alleged hypocrisy within religious communities.”

Baer tells the CL, “I wanted to go share the Gospel and live with the poor and really live out what I interpreted as Christ’s vision for the world. But I can’t make myself believe it anymore.”

HYDR. A Religious Studies student awarded by an atheist organization. 

Is this what they’re teaching at Ole Miss? 

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“My Rainbow in the Cloud”


BY: Oswald Chambers

  

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. —Genesis 9:13

It is the will of God that human beings should get into a right-standing relationship with Him, and His covenants are designed for this purpose. Why doesn’t God save me? He has accomplished and provided for my salvation, but I have not yet entered into a relationship with Him. Why doesn’t God do everything we ask? He has done it. The point is— will I step into that covenant relationship? All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into a relationship with Him on the basis of His covenant.

Waiting for God to act is fleshly unbelief. It means that I have no faith in Him. I wait for Him to do something in me so I may trust in that. But God won’t do it, because that is not the basis of the God-and-man relationship. Man must go beyond the physical body and feelings in his covenant with God, just as God goes beyond Himself in reaching out with His covenant to man. It is a question of faith in God— a very rare thing. We only have faith in our feelings. I don’t believe God until He puts something tangible in my hand, so that I know I have it. Then I say, “Now I believe.” There is no faith exhibited in that. God says, “Look to Me, and be saved…” (Isaiah 45:22).

When I have really transacted business with God on the basis of His covenant, letting everything else go, there is no sense of personal achievement— no human ingredient in it at all. Instead, there is a complete overwhelming sense of being brought into union with God, and my life is transformed and radiates peace and joy.

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The Supremacy of Jesus Christ


BY: Oswald Chambers

  

He will glorify Me… —John 16:14

The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God, nor is it stained with “the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). It is not marked or sealed by the Holy Spirit as being genuine, and it has no visual sign that causes people to exclaim with awe and wonder, “That is the work of God Almighty!” Yet the New Testament is about the work of God and nothing else.

The New Testament example of the Christian experience is that of a personal, passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. Every other kind of so-called Christian experience is detached from the Person of Jesus. There is no regeneration— no being born again into the kingdom in which Christ lives and reigns supreme. There is only the idea that He is our pattern. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the Savior long before He is the pattern. Today He is being portrayed as the figurehead of a religion— a mere example. He is that, but He is infinitely more. He is salvation itself; He is the gospel of God!

Jesus said, “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come,…He will glorify Me…” (John 16:13-14). When I commit myself to the revealed truth of the New Testament, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, who then begins interpreting to me what Jesus did. The Spirit of God does in me internally all that Jesus Christ did for me externally.

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Shallow and Profound


  

BY: Oswald Chambers

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. —1 Corinthians 10:31

Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow. This is a sure sign of spiritual pride. We must be careful, for this is how contempt for others is produced in our lives. And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than we are. Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby.

To be shallow is not a sign of being sinful, nor is shallowness an indication that there is no depth to your life at all— the ocean has a shore. Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did. He did them as the Son of God, and He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher…” (Matthew 10:24).

We are safeguarded by the shallow things of life. We have to live the surface, commonsense life in a commonsense way. Then when God gives us the deeper things, they are obviously separated from the shallow concerns. Never show the depth of your life to anyone but God. We are so nauseatingly serious, so desperately interested in our own character and reputation, we refuse to behave like Christians in the shallow concerns of life.

Make a determination to take no one seriously except God. You may find that the first person you must be the most critical with, as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.

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“What Is That to You?”


  

BY: Oswald Chambers

Peter…said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “…what is that to you? You follow Me.” —John 21:21-22

One of the hardest lessons to learn comes from our stubborn refusal to refrain from interfering in other people’s lives. It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s plan for others. You see someone suffering and say, “He will not suffer, and I will make sure that he doesn’t.” You put your hand right in front of God’s permissive will to stop it, and then God says, “What is that to you?” Is there stagnation in your spiritual life? Don’t allow it to continue, but get into God’s presence and find out the reason for it. You will possibly find it is because you have been interfering in the life of another— proposing things you had no right to propose, or advising when you had no right to advise. When you do have to give advice to another person, God will advise through you with the direct understanding of His Spirit. Your part is to maintain the right relationship with God so that His discernment can come through you continually for the purpose of blessing someone else.

Most of us live only within the level of consciousness— consciously serving and consciously devoted to God. This shows immaturity and the fact that we’re not yet living the real Christian life. Maturity is produced in the life of a child of God on the unconscious level, until we become so totally surrendered to God that we are not even aware of being used by Him. When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach— a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint— a saint is consciously dependent on God.

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