To Tell the Truth

The Bible is the living word of God, but it is not a living document.

A living document is ever-changing. Its meaning is constantly being updated and changed to fit society.

This is not the case for the Bible.

It is “truth.” The truth of the Bible is not subjective or open to change. God does not change. He is perfect and perfection cannot change, or it would no longer be perfect. So it is with God’s word. He inspired it, so it must be perfect.

The Bible is living because it changes those who read it and believe it. Our lives are transformed by the truths in the Bible. We become new creations in Christ, and we are no longer bound by the flesh. We are able to overcome the world.

The Constitution of the United States is not a living document. It has truths that are truth for all time. Those who view the constitution in this way are “originalists.”

Those who view the Constitution as “living” see it applying differently to different time periods and to changes in society. What was true of the Constitution in the 1800’s is simply not true of the Constitution today. This is how the constitution can be interpreted to provide “rights” for abortion advocates or for the gay community. Society sets the demands for the truth.

Many who view the Constitution as “living” view the Bible in the same way. It is “living” and constantly changing with society. In other words, they view truths as being subjective. In fact, it is difficult for them to understand anyone who views truth objectively. They view those who believe objective truth as being evil, short-sighted, or bigoted.

So, who decides what truth is, if truth is subjective? The majority? No. The one with the loudest voice? No. God? No. Those with power? Yes!

Who decides what is true?

When Amy Coney Barrett is attacked for her faith and questioned about her opinions, we are learning more about those attacking her than we are about her. They are saying that truth is subjective, and they do not like her version of truth. She has “chosen” to believe in an old-fashioned Bible and an old-fashioned Constitution.

The only way to win is to agree with the “living” document point-of-view. From God’s perspective, this can never be. Truth is truth, and He is the One who gave us truth. In this case, the only way to win is to side with God, and by siding with God, we make enemies with the society in which we live.

We must remind each other that, as Christians, we are aliens in a strange land. We are only passing through. We are citizens of the United States, but we are also citizens of a far greater kingdom. The Kingdom of God.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

We Are Essential!

In a world where people can take or leave faith, there are many who feel gathering for worship is essential.

As Christians, we are part of a minority.

Not only are we a minority, but we are under constant attack, and those who are attacking us are ever increasing in number.

In Psalm 3:1, we read, “Lord, how my foes increase! There are many who attack me.”

While in seminary, I had to do research on atheism. I admit it was the first time I had ever visited an atheist website. I soon realized that central to atheism was the idea that Christianity must be attacked at every level. Now, I am sure there are people out there who do not believe in God and don’t care what I believe, but there are others who don’t believe in God and want to sway me from believing in Him as well. Why else would we see billboards attacking Christmas, Easter, or attending church?

Christians cannot share their faith. When we do, we are labeled as being “insensitive” or worse, “bigoted.” We are mean spirited, old fashioned, or out of touch. If we don’t share our faith, we are hypocrites who don’t live what they believe.

What happens when we stand against persecution?

John MacArthur and his church, Grace Community Church, in California has been defying an order that only 25% of a congregation or no more than 100 people can meet in a church building with no singing allowed. The order is beyond anything reasonable and would destroy the church. MacArthur said, “As a church, we have a moral and religious obligation to continue allowing our congregants to gather in our sanctuary to worship the Lord,” the pastor said, adding that the church is the “core of life for thousands from nursery to seniors.”

John MacArthur at Grace Community Church

The state is saying that church is not essential. We know it is. Over 58 Million people attend church each week. We need to meet. We need to be encouraged by each other. We need to worship corporately. We need to be fed the word of God. We need to be taught God’s truths. We need to gather for prayer. We need to belong. We need to have counsel. We need to be loved.

At Ramoth Baptist, we are socially distanced and do everything we can to protect each other, but we must gather. We must continue to reach out to our community. We must follow God’s mandates.

Essential workers have continued to do their jobs. Pastors need to continue to do what God has called them to do. Doctors and nurses have continued to tend to the physical needs of the sick and we must continue to tend to the spiritual needs of our congregations. We are essential.

Lord, how my foes increase! There are many who attack me.

Psalms 3:1

Why Do The Nations Rage?

In this time of unrest, we must remember that God is sovereign.

We do not have a Supreme Court nominee and the media has already started their attack. They are aiming at anyone within the line of fire in an effort to disable the nominee before she is nominated.

Take Amy Coney Barrett for example. Yahoo just published an article with this headline. This is Amy Coney Barrett, Who Hates Your Uterus. Do you think Barrett has ever had a single thought about your uterus? I doubt it. Why would she?

The media is trying to make pro-life, Barrett’s identity. The problem is this, as a Christian, Barrett’s identity is in Christ, not her views on abortion. Her views are not based on selfish or rash decisions but on what God says in His word. This is difficult for people who do not believe in Christ to understand.

There are members of the Senate who want a person of Christian faith to ignore their beliefs. This is impossible. People of faith cannot ignore their identity in Christ. Decisions are based on their belief in Him. I know, a judge is there to interpret the law in light of the constitution, but faith will always be there as a moral compass. A judge with no faith will have a different moral compass.

This is another issue. We live in a society that has, to a great extent, advocated morality. We now turn to government, instead of God, to tell us what is right and wrong. The Supreme Court is no longer expected to make decisions solely based on the constitution, but now legislates morality from the bench. A moral, conservative judge represents a moral road that has long been left behind. Many no longer want to travel that road.

Few care how you live until you start living for God.

In fact, they want the judge, and the rest of society, to join them on a road with a godless vista. They do not want to be bound by Judeo/Christian morality and they do not want us to be bound by it either. Sin loves company. Few care how you live until you start living for God.

Psalm 2:1 asks, “Why do the nations rage?” It is because God has issued an invitation. They view the invitation as an ultimatum. They reject God and all that are associated with Him. We represent Him. They are angry. They rage.

Newsweek published an article accusing Amy Coney Barrett and a group she is a member of, The People of Praise, as being the inspiration for A Handmaid’s Tale. They talked about a conversation with Margaret Atwood about the inspiration she had for the story. The problem is that none of it is real. It was all a lie.

The last part of Psalm 2:1 is, and the people plot in vain? People are angry. They are angry at God, and since they are angry at God, they are angry at politics, our system of government, our leaders, their neighbors, and of course, Christians. Will it do any good? Nope. The nations rage and the people plot in vain. In the end it doesn’t matter who is in the White House, in the Senate, the House, or who sits on the Court. God is sovereign. God wins.  

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

Psalms 2:1

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Protests Rage Against Unnamed Supreme Court Nominee

People are angry that another conservative Judge may be added to the Supreme Court.

How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!

Psalms 1:1

I saw a sign at a protest that said “—- Trump, —- McConnell, —- Jesus”

Why include Jesus in that sign?

In Psalm 1:1 we read that we are not to take advice from the wicked. That is the first step. We take advice from the world and the world advises us to resist the teachings of Jesus and anyone who agrees with Him or even seems to agree with Him.

As the protestors stood together in the street shouting at McConnell’s house, I remembered that Psalm 1:1 tells us not to stand in the pathway with sinners. When we are against Biblical teaching, we join the ranks of those who hate God.

Why hate Jesus?

The protestors are concerned about a variety of issues, but at the forefront is the issue of abortion. They fear a new conservative judge will rule against abortion. They cannot even consider overturning Roe v Wade and anyone who disagrees with them is evil.

The final step is to sit in the company of mockers. We are now at the last part of the sign. It is not enough to be against President Trump or Leader McConnell, for the real rejection and rebellion is against the teachings of Jesus. How dare Jesus tell them how to live? How dare He condemn what they want to do? They are the gods of their own lives. They have no place for Him. They are in control. Or so they think.

In the end, we will all be judged. Heaven or Hell. There are no other choices. Rebellion or forgiveness. Acceptance or rejection. It’s not about Trump or McConnell. It’s all about Jesus.

To Be Fully Known

To be fully know by God means there are no secrets that can be kept from Him.

I find it intimidating to know that God knows my every thought! Before forgiveness, this single idea would give me chills. That 8-year-old boy that accepted Christ at summer camp was more concerned about God knowing his thoughts than about God knowing his deeds. I needed to be saved from what happened in my head.

Sometimes random memories creep into my brain. I don’t always know what triggers them. It could be smells, or sounds, or tastes, but I never see them coming, and I never remember them on purpose. I don’t know if I could find my way to those memories on my own. They need a trigger.

There are songs that make me instantly remember riding in a car, being at the beach, or walking to school. There are smells that remind me of different moments in life. Christmas, Thanksgiving, summer fairs. When I look at the moon, I remember the heartache I felt when my daughter and grandchildren left Virginia for Alaska. I don’t know why the moon triggers that memory, but it does.

Our memories are never gone.

I read an article in Wired that said our memories are never gone. However, we may not be able to access them. The pathway to the memory may be lost to the conscious mind, but that memory exists. Could it be this way so we will no longer remember the things that do not define us?

Finding a path to a memory is like traveling stairs in an Escher Painting.

I find my definition in Christ, not in the sins I have committed. I have been forgiven for the sins in my life even if I don’t remember what those sins were. Through God’s grace I have found forgiveness in Jesus.

My dad had a rough childhood. He was passed from relative to relative after his parents split up. He missed his mom. This was based on the stories he told me at different times as I was growing up. I think it was one of the things that helped my parents remain married even when things got tough. They had lost parents and grew up in homes that were broken. They were adamant that this would never happen to their home.

As dad went through dementia, I watched as he went further and further back in time. I watched as he became that little boy that missed his mom. I watched him get passed from relative to relative. I saw him relive the pain. As his disease progressed, he forgot his family, but had access to memories I am sure he would have never wanted to live again. I cannot tell you how hard this was for me to sit and live those memories with him. There was no way to stop it and no way to fix it. I don’t know if the rest of my family saw this happen to dad, but I pray they didn’t.  

One of my favorite pictures of dad and me in his workshop.

God knows us fully. He knows every thought we have ever had. He knows every thought we ever will have. He knows us like no other and yet, He loves us. I don’t know that that could be said about any other. If those we love knew our inner most thoughts, they may not look at us the same way.

God knows us fully!

God loves us with a perfect love. God loves us in spite of what we think. He loves us, and as we come to Him through Christ the Son, He is ready to draw us close and help us to be more like Jesus.

Dad believed in Christ. He had the promise of Heaven. Even after dementia took away the memory of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, God remembered. My dad may have forgotten God for a moment, but God never forgot my dad.

As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will reject you forever.

1 Chronicles 28:9

Lord , you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away.

Psalms 139:1-2

I See You

As the years go by our eyes grow dim, our hearing fades, our bodies fail. But I see you just as clearly as on the day we met.

We all desire an intimate relationship. Not just sexual, but deep, loving, unconditional, selfless, and forgiving. This type of relationship is hard to find, but it is also hard to give.

Me in the Chapel at RBC

Look at my face. Do you still see me as that 22-year-old? Do you see the promise I have to give? Do you see the hope I have to offer? Even in the face of an old man, there is plenty of hope, promise, and love there.

Look at my hands. Do you still see hands that are willing to work, to hold, to love, to lift you up when you are weak? Even though they are not as strong as they once were, my hands desire to give what they have always given. They desire to lift you up when you are hurt or unable to go further. They desire to hold your hands as we walk together and to show the world that we are one.

Hands that have grown old but still have life in them

Look at my body. Once strong and willing to carry the weight of the world, now willing to cover yours and take the first attack, though I cannot bear it long. Wrinkled skin, thinning hair, doctor relationships instead of visits, stopping to rest more often, and more viewing the world from the porch or deck than walking paths and city streets.

Look at my life. Do you see the growth toward our Lord? Do you see me loving Him and in turn loving you and loving our family? Do you see the sacrifices made? Do you see the compromises and concessions? I have given up dreams and changed plans to be rewarded a hundred-fold. This life has been better than I could have ever imagined.

An impromptu family Christmas picture

I see you. I see that 19-year-old girl with a smile that could light up a room. A girl full of life. A girl full of love. I see a girl that loves, not just me, but others. I see a girl that endured difficulties both financial, relational, and physical. I see a survivor. I see a girl that beat cancer and gave up dreams for love and life with this old man. I see a girl that loves Jesus.

39 years ago!

God loves us. He blessed us with this life together. He had and continues to have plans for us. I pray we will walk this path until it comes to an end, and then spend forever, together with Him.

For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord ’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Unity

In the face of adversity, we were unified.

On September 11, 2001 I stood in my classroom in a high school in Virginia preparing for 3rd period. The doors to the band room opened and a student walked in and said, “Mr. Hite, turn on the TV. A plane just hit the World Trade Center. I was watching it in another class.” I turned the TV on and saw the second plane hit the second tower. We instantly knew we were under attack.

The Old Stafford Senior High School

Kids were in shock and I didn’t know if we should continue to watch the news or try to have class. A short time later a plane hit the Pentagon. For kids living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. it had just become real. High school students broke into tears. I became a counselor. There would be no more teaching. I talked, consoled, and prayed with kids. I tried to assure those kids whose parents worked at the Pentagon, that their parents were OK. I prayed they were.

National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

As it happened, 125 men and women lost their lives at the Pentagon, but somehow, we didn’t lose a single band parent. We all lost friends. Some lost relatives. Our community was rocked to the core and there was an instant kinship with New York and Pennsylvania. Life for us would never be the same. We would never drive by the Pentagon and see it the same way.

We were supposed to go to New York on our spring trip. We were going to a Yankee’s game, see a Broadway show, go to the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty. That tip was cancelled. We went to Disney World instead. Four years later, we did go to New York.

The new New York skyline

The band played at the Lincoln Center, we saw a Broadway show, we went to a Museum, saw a Mets game, went to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We had a great time. But my clearest memory was as we emerged from the Lincoln tunnel into the city. The bus driver was trying to give us a tour and pointing out places of interest. The kids were so excited they barely listened and then he said those words. “This is where the twin towers once stood.”

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The entire bus was instantly quiet. There was a reverence for the 2,606 people who had lost their lives in New York. I didn’t have to ask for silence. It was automatic and it lasted a long time. New York was real, just like the Pentagon.

In the face of adversity and loss we had become one. We were no longer divided by race, gender, economic class, age, or religion. We were united. People flew the flag on their porches and stood with their hands over their hearts for the pledge of allegiance. Nationalism was alive again!

Some of the kids became servicemen and servicewomen. Some of them became firemen or EMT’s, or policemen. I was so proud. My kids, as foolish as high schoolers are, could see the gravity of our situation and were willing to lay down their lives, if necessary, to do something about it.

Flags Fly after 9/11

Where are they now? Some have passed away. Some were killed in action. A few have retired from the departments they served. A few became leaders of their departments. I bet not one is rioting. They may be protesting, but not rioting. In one long day they learned not to take for granted the country so many worked so hard to protect and to build.

By Loving this country, they have loved me and each other.

I am a decade removed from directing band. The church I am honored to serve as pastor, is filled with servicemen and servicewomen, fire fighters, and law enforcement of all types. I love my country. I love these men and women. I love our Lord that so many of us share. If I could tell them one thing, I would say that I am so proud of who they are, what they have done, and how they have loved this country. By loving this country, they have loved me and each other.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

We Are Lights in the Darkness

We shine much brighter together!

I sat in Cracker Barrell with a group of pastors before the pandemic. We talked about our churches and our ministries and how things were going. None of us had a clue what was on the horizon. None of us knew that some of us would barely survive the next 7 months. None of us knew we would lose people to the virus and wouldn’t even be allowed to preach or sing at their funerals.

Still, as we talked, I thought about the great light many of these men shine into the darkness. Some of their ministries were in the 4th or even 5th decade. I felt quite insufficient. In some ways, my light could not compare to theirs. Not only have I not been in ministry as long, but I am a worship pastor. I am the music guy. I have a unique set of skills that God uses to reach others, but I seldom preach. Even so, my light also shines.

The Cascades in Pembroke VA

I remember being in college when money was tight. Dates were usually something cheap or free. On one occasion, I escorted my girlfriend up to Pembroke in the VA Alleghany foothills to the cascades. We took a picnic lunch, wore our bathing suits under our clothes, and began the hike up to the waterfall. It was a glorious summer day. We played under the falls, went swimming in the pools of water, and ate lunch on a rock in the creek. It was a great time.

A flashlight would have been handy!

We made one mistake. As the sun started to fall behind the mountain, we began hiking back to the car. It got dark. It got dark fast. I grabbed a long stick, took her hand in mine, and began feeling our way out of the mountain. I could hear the creek to my left, and I could feel the rise of the mountain to my right, but I had to use the stick to feel what was ahead. She had to trust me not to fall off of the path into the creek below. It was like being in a cave. We couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces.

We were moments away from seeing a lot of Park Rangers.

As we emerged from the mountain into the parking lot, It was as though God turned the lights on. The stars were shining brightly, and it was suddenly easy to see. A park ranger was waiting on us. He was moments away from calling in a search team. Even though we were embarrassed, and shaking with cold, we were incredibly happy to be out of the dark.   

The Frozen Cascades.

Had I had matches or a flashlight, I would have been able to pierce the darkness. I would have been able to see and guide us out of the mountain. As it was, we were blind, and had to feel our way home. I didn’t need a search light. I didn’t even need a good flashlight. A pen light would have worked.

Whether you are at the beginning or at the end of your walk with Jesus, you are a light shining in the darkness!

Sitting with those men of faith, I was reminded that my light would shine just as brightly as theirs for we were all going up into the mountain. Our world is dark, and it is getting darker. We must be a light, but that light does not begin with us. The light is Jesus. We simply reflect the light that is within us.

A true Christian will be unable to hide the light. It will shine no matter what. We may still carry remnants of the world and people may calls us hypocrites, but we still belong to Jesus. The world can see it. They may stand at a distance and wonder at the light, but they still see it. As we grow in our faith, we begin to shine more and more brightly until we step out of the darkness and we see other Christians shining brightly like stars all around us.

We are not the only lights in the darkness.

Are you being a light in your world today? Take someone by the hand and lead them out of the darkness. You are not alone. There are lots of lights out there. With Jesus and with each other, we can overcome the dark.

That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:5

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light —

Ephesians 5:8

Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Fair Enough

My wife, the little grandkids, and I enjoyed a fair this weekend.

We were attracted by the lights, the music, and the rides going up and down, and round and round.

The kids saw the fair from the car and were shouting, “Turn left, Poppie! Turn left!” I did, and several hours later, with my stomach still doing somersaults, I drove home.

Penny on the Jumbo ride.

We had a great time because the kids had a great time. The crazy amount of money we spent was worth it because we enjoyed the excitement on their faces. After an incredibly long season of virus and pandemic, it was just nice to go somewhere, even if it was a just a few miles away and we had to wear a mask!

The fun was real, but the experience was like something out of a movie. You see it. You experience it. You sense the excitement and maybe the danger, but none of it is real. It is all controlled. You don’t have to ride. You can ride as often as you like. You can scream or you can sit quietly. You have some control.

Kash telling me what he wants to ride next.

But life is not like this. We are often free-falling with no control at all. We are scared silly and the fright is real. There is real danger lurking ahead. We know what we have to lose, but we have no control to stop it. We watch in horror as the economy fails. We have no control to stop the violence in our major cities. We are segregated from our friends and families because of the virus and are afraid to take a trip because we must ride on a plane or stay in a hotel with hundreds of other people. If someone coughs, we part the aisle at the grocery store like Moses parting the Red Sea.  

We often feel like we are free-falling through life!

We must remember that God is in control. Everything works out to his plan. Even when we feel like things are out of control, they are still in His control. As we look toward the upcoming election, we see a variety of ideas on how we should vote and who we should vote for. I have my candidate; you have yours. I think mine will do what is best for our country, but you think the same about yours. One of us will not be happy with the results. This is inevitable.

I trust that God will do what He is going to do and will be in control of all that happens. Even if it is difficult for me. Even if the country changes. Even if I am persecuted for my faith. God is sovereign. He is in control. There will be no surprises for Him. Somebody will be surprised, but it will be ok. God says so.

God is even in charge of the mundane!

God is in charge of the mundane as well. He controls the universe, the day-to-day, our individual lives, the work, the family, the church, the country, the world. There is no place where He is not working. It all goes according to His plan. He doesn’t give up and we shouldn’t either.

He was even working at the fair.

As we got on the Himalaya, a ride that goes round and round at a fast, bumpy clip, I put my arm around Penny and supported her head. “It will be ok,” I said. “Keep an eye out for the Yeti!”

You know, she was ok. Poppie had control, and I did, of everything but my stomach.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26

In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will,

Ephesians 1:11

We Are Made for Relationship

If there is one thing we learned during the shut down, it is that we are relational beings.

First, we are made for a relationship with God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Our relationship with Him is first and foremost the reason we are here. God created man, placed him in the garden, and talked with him. God may have walked with him in the garden, we don’t really know, but we do know He had a relationship with the first man and woman. He made us for relationship.

Could the garden have looked like the Butchart Gardens in Vancouver?

Second, we were made to have relationships with each other. Unfortunately, our world has supplanted relationship with sex, power, and lordship over others. Oh, to have relationships as they were intended. That is why Christ came. To reconcile us with God. To reestablish relationship.

Kids playing!

Look at the way children interact with each other. They hold hands. They pretend and play. They establish fair rules of play. They love each other and lift each other up when someone is hurt physically or emotionally.

One of my favorite pictures is of Kash holding Penny’s hand. We were at the zoo and she got hurt. Kash came back to where Penny was crying, took her hand, told her it was alright, and led her to the next area. He perfectly illustrated what God does for us daily. He takes our spiritual hand, tells us we will be ok through His peace, His word, or through another of His children, and then leads us to the next adventure.

Penny and Kash after Penny was hurt.

Can you imagine the perfect relationship of the Trinity?

No one ever gets hurt. No one ever gets jealous. No one tries to take control. It is perfect love. God exists in this permanently perfect relationship. He didn’t need us. He wanted to share a perfect love with another. That is why we are here, but we can’t follow the rules of play.

We are out-of-bounds. We cheat to win. We lie.

God wanted to be glorified by us and He wanted to share His glory with us. We just couldn’t allow that. We listened to Satan. Instead of loving and glorifying God, we desired to have what God has. We wanted to be God.

You know what? We still do. No matter how nice, how good, how sweet we are, there is still something inside of us that wants to be God. That is why Jesus came. His death and resurrection defeated the enemy and removes the stain of sin. In other words, he bridged the gap of this relational divide so we can once again relate with God.

Jesus is here for you. He wants to be a friend that loves at all times. Will you let Him?

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.

Proverbs 17:17

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11