Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | April 26, 2019


Pastor Emeritus Terry Hagedorn, Calvary Baptist Church, Reedsville, WV (I wrote this in 1996.)

There has never been a time when I wanted to believe the following statement; yet, there have only been a few times when I have been absolutely convinced that it is false: the ministry is filled with nits, gnats and knots.

What are nits, gnats and knots? What are we to do about them?

(1) NITS: “…Ye bite and devour one another” Galatians 5:15

When one talks about nits, he or she must remember three things: 1) a nit is an egg case, 2) a louse lays nits, and 3) a nitpicker is the pesky third person who tries to remove the nits and the louse from the hapless nit-pickee.

As any victim knows, a louse–any louse–is a bloodsucking pest. It attaches itself to an unwitting host by getting into his hair (or a toupee–as the case may be). Then it gets under your skin.

This is like the so-called brother who attaches himself, directly or indirectly, to a healthy host and then starts devouring his victim. (Please note that by saying “so-called” brethren, I am not questioning their salvation–just their brotherliness.) Some associate pastors, mission board directors, teachers, deacons, etc… latch themselves onto unwitting ministers and ministries in order to drain them dry of their very life’s blood.

This type of lice produce itching, which produces scratching, which produces bleeding, which feeds more lice, and so on and so forth. This is a symbiotic relationship; however, it is not a mutually beneficial relationship. It is parasitic relationship.

Essentially, the bloodsucker makes merchandise of his host–by bloodsucking or back-stabbing–which ever is the most expedient means for the louse to draw blood.

That’s not the worst of it. The louse lays its nits, egg cases, on its host. Then just like monkeys, more so-called brethren make it their business to nit-pick on the hapless victim.

Among some of God’s creatures, nit-picking is a social activity. Have you ever seen the grooming habits of monkeys?

Monkeys and some so-called brethren seek to be upwardly mobile through the social order by nit-picking on whom they identify as superiors or dominant characters. The rationale seems to be: if one grooms or nit-picks a leader, then one is somehow on that leader’s rung in the social order–at least temporarily.

One single louse can multiply, infest, infect and destroy its host! There was a large soulwinning, mission-minded, Fundamental church on a boulevard in a certain city. This church had graciously invited a missionary to work on staff and to use the church as his home base during his furlough. However, while serving on staff, he found that he disagreed with the pastor.

Whether this disagreement had some merit or not is not the issue. The dispute was not over a doctrinal or moral issue. Instead of repenting or leaving the church–as he should have–the missionary stayed and undermined the pastor’s ministry. He criticized the pastor. Malcontents flocked to him. The church split. Eventually, that church had to be closed.

The building was sold and became a furniture store. In my humble opinion, that missionary acted like a louse. Hopefully he has been de-loused by repentance and confession of this sin.

Fundamentalism does not need one more louse, nit or nit picker; yet, they are everywhere and growing in numbers!

May the LORD deliver us from this modern plague of lice.

(2) GNATS: “…(ye) strain at a gnat, …and swallow a camel”

Matthew 23:24

The Pharisees strained water, wine and broth through a cloth. They did this religiously to keep from being defiled by coming into contact with a dead body-even a gnat’s dead body. However, Jesus said that such strict keeping of the letter of the Law “straining at a gnat”, was accompanied by an absurd violation of the spirit of the Law, “swallowing a camel”. While they were being so careful with religious externals, they neglected the internal values of their religion and became hypocrites–and “omitted the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith”. Matthew 23:23

A true Fundamentalist detests being called “legalistic” and “Pharisaical”; however, if that shoe does fit some who call themselves a fundamentalist, then they will just have to wear it.

The following example will illustrate that sad fact. I once heard a evangelist brag about the following incident:

He and his host pastor had gone out to eat at a local restaurant. They were seated by the manager and given a menu to look over. After a few moments, the waitress approached the two preachers and cheerfully said, “Good afternoon. Welcome to our restaurant. May I take your order?” The waitress was wearing a mini-skirt. (Obviously, this incident happened some time ago.)

The evangelist looked at her in self-righteous disgust and in a voice loud enough to be heard by all the surrounding tables–he evidently wanted everyone to know that a man of God like himself would not willingly be seen with such trash–he said, “Young lady you are not gonna take our order. Go git some clothes on your nekked body! Or, git someone decent to come take our order.”

The young lady was shocked by the verbal assault. She was completely taken off guard. She didn’t know that these men were preachers. She didn’t know that they had standards. She was just trying to make a living. She was just trying to earn a decent wage and a nice tip. She was so embarrassed. She burst into tears and ran to the back of the restaurant. The evangelist actually gloated when he related this story! Would Jesus have acted like he did?

What about the weightier matters of discretion, mercy, and faith? Was she a lost or a saved person? He doesn’t know. Should he expect a lost person to have lived by Christian standards–when many Christians don’t, either? Where was any mercy, pity, for this person? Did his actions encourage the young lady to believe on Christ as Savior; or, wouldn’t his actions drive her farther away from Christ, the Church, and Christians?

May God have mercy on such gnat strainers! May the Lord help us to look at the lost with the eyes of Christ. May we–like Christ–love sinners and hate their sin. May Christ be seen and heard in us. Pray for that waitress–and for that evangelist!

AND WOOD KNOTS: “…ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37)

My pastor friend, Steve Johnson, told me the following story: A mountain man got saved, called to preach, and called to pastor his little home church. This dear brother had one major problem with his ministry–he couldn’t read. Whether his eyesight was poor or he just never had the opportunity to learn to read, I don’t know. Either way, I am not making fun of his inability; rather, I want to use a bit of his serendipitous wisdom. Let me explain.

The preacher found a novel way to preach. He had his deacon read the text–phrase by phrase. Then he would preach a message on the text.

One day the deacon came to the text, Matthew 23:37. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee,” he read and then paused.

The illiterate preacher took his cue from the pause and preached about the Lord’s compassion in crying out to Jerusalem. He also spoke of the condemnation that comes upon those who reject the prophets of God.

The deacon interjected, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings…”

The preacher broke in and expanded upon the compassion of the Lord–eloquently illustrating it with a personal story about hens.

As the preacher finished the story about chickens, the deacon hurriedly read the remainder of the verse, “AND YE WOULD NOT!”

Without skipping a beat the preacher picked up on the text and exclaimed, “There’s the real problem! They were “wood knots”. What is a wood knot? It’s a defect. It’s a hard place in the wood that ruins the piece of lumber. Have you ever gone to the lumberyard to get some boards? You see one that looks just perfect, then when you pull it out of the pile–it’s got a big old wood knot. Well, you wouldn’t want to buy that one would you? That knot ruins the board. Jesus said that the Jews that rejected him were like a wood knot–hard-headed and bad! Are you a hard-headed wood knot?”


1. If you think that you can sin and get away with it–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

2. If you think that the ecumenical movement is a good thing–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

3. If you think that you can neglect your spiritual life by not reading God’s Word and praying and still be close to the Lord–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

4. If you think that the Living Bible is the Word of God–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

5. If you think that it doesn’t matter how you live–“as long as you are a soul winner”–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

6. If you are boorish and proud and expect to be blessed in your ministry–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

7. If you think that you can fellowship with liberals, apostates and cultists on the basis of battling moral issues (pornography, abortion, sodomy, etc…) and not be compromised–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

8. If you think that wild fire is less dangerous than no fire– YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

9. If you think that the grass is greener somewhere else and haven’t considered: 1) it may be Astro-Turf, 2) it will just mean that there is more grass that you’ll have to mow, or 3) that the grass is always greener over the septic field–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

10. If you criticize your church as being “so unspiritual” and forget that same crowd called you to be their pastor–YOU MAY BE A WOOD KNOT!

May the Lord deliver us from NITS, GNATS and KNOTS!


%d bloggers like this: