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Posts Tagged ‘Pastor Nick’

Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Rejection is a very confusing experience. Assuming we have some form of self-esteem we love ourselves to some level. Even suicidal people have so much love for themselves that they would rather die than experience more pain. It is a warped self-protection. If we love ourselves that much, that we would die for ourselves, it is hard to imagine someone being mean to us.

What is even stranger is being rejected for some reason that you can’t help – like your country of birth, skin color, mental or physical abilities.

Yet the strangest rejection of all is being rejected because of someone else. “Imagine your boss coming in and saying. I don’t like your brother so I am going to dock your pay.” How many of us would gladly deny even having a brother to keep that 50 bucks? How many of us would just assume it was a joke, I mean after all who lives like that, really?

The sad fact is, when it comes to evangelism, sometimes even wearing the name Christian, the world does exactly that. They hate Jesus and being his brothers and sisters we will encounter and should expect such reactions.

How are we to handle such rejection – like Peter, who denied Jesus to maybe stand closer to a fire? Betray Jesus like Judas? Maybe simply run away like the boy in the Garden, who was willing to loose his clothes and run naked away rather than stand with Jesus. 

This Sunday we learned that we need to simply shake the dust off and move on. We can’t take the rejection personally. When we are rejected, our message is rejected, the sad truth is, they aren’t rejecting us, they are rejecting Jesus. Sad because rejecting Him comes with the price tag of eternal damnation.

Rather than going into self-pity mode, or get angry (both of which I am prone to do) we need to feel compassion and pity for those rejecting the message. Little Jesus meek and mild said it would be better to have lived in Sodom on the day of its destruction than to reject him. What is sadder than that?

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Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Wipe the dust off your feet

As I read through this passage, what struck me is the harshness of it. What Jesus is saying, is taking nothing from these people, the people who reject Christ, not even the dust.

It seems to be the ultimate act of rejection. The passage doesn’t read as an “Oh well, at least I tried” message. There are severe consequences for rejecting Christ and rejecting his messengers, both in this life and the life to come. If Jesus tells you that Sodom will be better off than you in the final day, you better do some hard thinking.

The passage isn’t saying “Go look for a fight.” Or enjoy the moment when you can guilt-freely say “Go to Hell.” But it is not a “Little Jesus meek and mild either.” Jesus means business. And he means for us to do business as well.

As I think through this point, I am trying to remember the last time I shook the dust off my sandals with anyone. The fact is, I can’t and I am ashamed. If I haven’t alienated, offended, or irritated someone with my faith, I haven’t been expressing it loud enough or strong enough.

It hits me reading this there are a few truths to be gotten from these verses.

1.   You go. You don’t stay in your comfort zone with only Christians around you.

2.   You speak the truth, not platitudes.

3.   You speak the full truth. No one likes mentioning hell, or the judgment to come, but it is just as true as the fact that Christ came into the world to save sinners.

4.   You will be rejected and it seems just at a quick glance, that it should happen more than once. There is not a feeling of “If it didn’t work for you, maybe you weren’t supposed to be an evangelist.” Guess what, if we are Christians we are already evangelists. Maybe not paid for it, maybe not known for it, maybe not even be good at it. That isn’t the point.

5.   We don’t stay where we are not wanted.

6.   Evangelism is straight-forward here. “There isn’t a become friends and plant seeds, maybe in another couple months water it, and in a few years maybe the person will come around.”  Friendship evangelism is done with people who were open to the first message, perhaps not believing but not shutting you out either.

7.   We move on. Simply we not only go, but we go again and again and again and….

Just some thoughts.

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Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

We are Not Afraid of Being Unwelcome

Again after the hate mail last night and as I opened my mail this afternoon, I realized I am afraid of being unwelcome. I wanted people to write encouraging comments, so far I have a couple questions, a couple of neutral comments and 2 rather stupid ones in one day. I feel slightly wounded and discouraged.

Perhaps it is waiting from some sign in deciding whether to keep posting or throw in the towel. After all, despite being a “church” blog, the score is nasty-gram 2 church 0 in terms of comments, or willingness to post for that matter. (OK I’ll save that for another post.)

Point is, I think I got my sign, keep going. Jesus never promised that we would be popular, in fact He promised the opposite. We would offend; we would be more irritating than a mosquito trapped in a sweaty man’s sleeping bag. While we should go out of our way to be bothersome, we shouldn’t run and cower either.

The blessing unwelcomed, is the blessing returned. Jesus said. Someone else said “If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.” Both Seem appropriate at the moment.

It just got hotter here and I need thicker skin, not faster feet. I know where I am welcome and who will welcome me. That is enough, or at least should be.

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Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Peace Was Jesus’ Ministry

Peace has gathered some ugly baggage over the years. Peace has gone from an image of silence gathered around the newspaper, TV or radio whispering to each other “Have you heard? Did you hear?” to the image of screaming fanatics (think Code Pink), unwashed Hippies and groovy signs carried by protesters who somehow believe that their sign will be the one to change the hearts of all men (Wake up and smell the coffee).

If we step back from the most recent peace images we can see how Jesus fits the first image much better. Everywhere he went news went before him “Have you heard? He’s coming!” and after he left “Did you hear, he came and guess what he did? He forgave my sins! He healed me!”

Jesus’ ministry was all about peace, not creating peace that could win a Nobel Prize, but a peace that could win you eternity. Man is evil, every drop of sweat from every effort done, even a good one has the mark of evil in it. Am I saying that man is as bas he could be, not at all. What I am saying is a bit different.

Imagine a bottle of water. Now sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of rat poison. Shake until all of the poison has been dissolved. Now drink it. No, why not, the water is not completely saturated with poison. We don’t drink it because we know every swallow would kill us. Poison does not need to be concentrated to kill, neither does sin.

Because man is evil, man has three enemies: God, other people, and himself. God can’t look at sin, wants nothing to do with sin or sinful people. We being evil want nothing to do with him unless it is on our own terms; for example, the God-is-Santa idea that he knows when I am bad or good, but gives me presents anyway heresy.

We are at war with other people. We don’t want to see them succeed, especially when it comes at our expense. We are willing to give, but only from our horded stockpiles. If you want to see how peaceful man is by himself, hang out at a hippie blog and say “I am a conservative Christian” and see how long the tolerance crowd remains so. Let’s face it, man is only at peace with those he agrees with and even then, it can change at the drop of a hat.

We are also at war with ourselves. As someone who has spent years dealing with depression, chronic illness and pain, and two suicide attempts I can tell you a little bit about how man’s war with himself. My mind and body both rage against me daily.

For those of you who are Christians, you know how Jesus can bring peace in all of these areas. If you are not a Christian, I hope I have peaked your curiosity to know more. I would love to tell you more how you can have peace even in the midst of storms. I am no expert, but if you want to know more about peace with Jesus please e-mail me, talk to me after church, call me. You can reach me at hey.keith@gmail.com.

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What is Shalom?

Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Most people understand shalom to mean “peace” in the sense of “the absence of conflict.” While correct, this reflects the end result of biblical shalom, not the substance. To get at the substance of shalom, we have to begin with the verb, since Hebrew is primarily a language of action, not of concepts, a language that favors the dynamic over the static.

This much is clear shalom, no matter how casual its use, is tied directly to justice. Even in biblical times, the slogan was true “No Justice, No Peace.” We’ll see just how true as we unpack the range of meanings that shalom has in the biblical text. We begin with the verb, with the action of “doing shalom.”

In concrete, everyday use, the verb form of shalom means “to pay.” This payment is not a gift or a favor, but is an obligation arising out of an agreement you and I might enter. Such an agreement demands a relationship of trust. We must be willing to trust each other and to respect what that trust requires, otherwise one of us might ignore or distort our obligations. When we fulfill those obligations, we are doing shalom.

The Bible also uses shalom as a legal term. In the Book of Exodus, the section following the Ten Commandments includes lots of concrete applications. Among them are 14 practical rules about losing, stealing, or damaging someone else’s property. Here’s the first one:

If someone leaves a pit open, or digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restitution, giving money to the animal’s owner, but keeping the dead animal (Exod. 2133-34).

The Hebrew word that is translated “shall make restitution” is the verb form of shalom. Here the issue is not so much relationship as responsibility-like the sign you might see today in pottery shops “You break it, you bought it.” Put another way, if I cause you loss, I’m obliged to make good for what I’ve destroyed or taken. Again, I’m not doing you a favor, or acting out of the goodness of my heart. I’m doing what justice demands. That, too, is doing shalom.

So, when the Bible uses shalom as a verb, it’s talking about holding up my side of an agreement, or making restitution if I have deprived you of something that is rightfully yours-even if I did it unknowingly or by mistake. Both these uses involve tangible, precise actions-actions that produce or restore an element of equilibrium.

As a noun, shalom has the basic meaning of “sufficiency.” Again, the context is concrete. The sufficiency involves food, shelter, clothing, land, or work. It also includes the feeling of being satisfied because one’s legitimate desires have been met. Note that I said desires, not needs. Biblical shalom is not sufficiency in the sense of having just enough to get by. It is sufficiency on a grander scale. It is sufficiency in the face of abundance, not sufficiency in the face of scarcity…. View Article

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Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

3. Wild Enough to Surrender the Present

Extended meaning of “family” in v.61
= what I enjoy right now

= my comfort zone
= friendly environment
= I’m-in most-likely-welcomed circumstances
= my pleasant present

 

I don’t know if many of you will understand this. I am over 40 and single (but not for long J). I don’t often hear the word “NO” in my life. As long as I am not late for class, I can get up when I want. I can go to sleep when I want, buy what I want, clean the house or not if the mood hits. In general, I have a very large comfort zone.

This is true in my Christian life as well. I have a comfortable but largely non-evangelistic relationship with many of my co-workers: some are simply hedonists, others Buddhist, some Confucian, some I simply don’t know.

As Pastor Nick spoke, I was confronted at how large my comfort zone had become, how little I was willing to risk in sharing the gospel with others. How little I have shared with even my own family about my faith and what it means to me. I tell them I preach, that I want to start a leadership training school in the Philippines, but how little they know about what Jesus means to me and why. I am ashamed.

There is little I can write on this section of the sermon other than say I will strive to be better, break down the walls the protect and defend my comfort and follow Jesus even when I know it “ain’t gonna’ be pretty.” I invite you to walk this path with me.

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2. Wild Enough to Let Go of the Past

Extended meaning of “funeral”
= the past that we mourn about
= The past that we feel regretful for.
V.60 can be seen like this: “Let go of the past and walk on the way of Jesus.”

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