Fishing: Intention & The Big Picture

(part 5 of 5)

Don generally fishes with a “catch & release” mentality. He enjoys being outdoors and kayaking around in the summer sun with birds chirping and wildlife soaring and scurrying around. On a regular day his time is spent in meetings and meeting deadlines and so this slow pace, with no official expectation, other than to get away from regular duties and enjoy nature, is a great way to relax.

On the contrary, when satan uses his lures and bait, he is fishing for keeps. If he can get us hooked on any number of things that can wreak havoc on our lives he is accomplishing what he has set out to do. And we, sinners that we are, willingly succumb to the temptations that the world has to offer. Even if we get snagged in a serious way, caught and transported across the world in foreign waters and a long way from “home”, God longs to negotiate our release. It requires a recognition of our sinful nature and a heart surrendered to Him.

Why did Jesus ask for fisherman to be fishers of men?

Let’s take another look at God’s Word:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. [Matthew 4:18-22 NIV]

Living beside the Sea of Galilee meant their daily sustenance involved a lot of fish so it was essential to know how to fish successfully! Jesus called four people who had similar experiences and two sets of brothers. Interesting. Living and working side by side requires an awful lot of patience and respect and negotiation — even if we aren’t fishing. These four had some common experiences and likely had learned to relate well to one another and were a source of encouragement and support while fishing on the water. All those are important for discipling “on land”.

An awareness of the climate, weather, access points, and location are all things fisherman learn. Fisherman also know their equipment and keep it in good repair. They are always open to learning and have a lot of patience. A good fisherman knows there isn’t any point trying to fish in a hurry. It usually takes a lot of time.

I am so thankful for what God is teaching me. He is so relevant even in areas where I can hardly relate. I am really not a big fan of fishing but I am a big fan of spending time with Don. Who knew I would “catch” all this about fishing just by tagging along?

And where are you? What principles are you “catching” from your environment? And what ideas are others catching from you? I pray we are all sharing Biblical principles in our uniquely gifted ways!

Fishing: Lures & Bait

(part 4 of 5)

Lures and bait have the same job to do and they are both useful depending on what kind of fish you are going for as well as what is happening with the weather and how deep the water is. While a fisherman might seem to favor an approach, it is important for them to switch up what they use depending on the climate and circumstances.

I am not a big fan of using the “lure & bait” analogy when I am talking about sharing the Gospel. I wouldn’t want to be accused of “bait & switch” or be thought of as a trickster when sharing what God can do. There is something about luring and baiting that feels sinister to me. I think satan uses lures and bait all the time to hook us on things that distract us from God’s Word and His desires. I don’t think satan is a catch & release guy like my husband, Don, is. Satan would love to keep us on his line for our lifetime.

And for a similar reason, I haven’t been a big fan of the idea of being “hooked on Jesus”. Have you seen colorful construction paper fish with big smiles next to a big hook on the bulletin board at church? That isn’t reality for the fish: it isn’t a happy time. I think my mind never really resolved that part of the analogy. And I don’t know that God meant for it to go that far anyway. Usually being “hooked on” something isn’t a good thing (unless you are hooked on phonics)!

But let’s talk about the fish ~ they are hungry and they are attracted to shiny things. And if you watch any environmental videos you know there is a problem with fish and other wildlife eating trash from our oceans and rivers. It is very disturbing. They are vulnerable. They lack discernment. They are being duped. They are getting caught by things that are not good for them.

I have been in that very same place. Have you?

Do you see people around you taking the bait of a dangerous offer? I find it is often easy to see it when I have been in the very same place and recall being lured into a compromising activity. Once the bait is accepted there seems to be increased offerings and when there is a deep hunger, anything looks like good food.

If you see someone “taking the bait”, you are, at the very least, called to pray for them. I don’t believe God brings things to our attention and expects we will do nothing. The challenge is often what we should do. Prayer is a great way to start. Watch & pray. If you are praying and seeking God on the matter, I believe He will let you know if more is required of you.

For further consideration:
John Bevere wrote a great book: The Bait of Satan. It is definitely worth reading, particularly if you have ever gone through a time when you have been deeply offended by the behavior of another.

Fishing: Access Points & Equipment

(part 3 of 5)

Access Points: Some people fish along the shore–but not every shore is accessible so there are docks and boats if you want to change up your approach. Of course, it also matters what kind of fish you  want to catch. Deep sea fishing is much different than kayaking on a little reclaimed strip mine lake in southern Indiana which is different than fly-fishing in Poudre Canyon, Colorado. You need to decide if you will be next to the water, on the water, or in the water because that determines the rest of what you need to bring along. But one thing remains true–you need to go where the fish are….they don’t come to you ~ unless you are in an area with Asian carp and then they will try to jump in your boat!!!

God calls us to carry His message to many places. Where is He equipping and directing you for service? 
Equipment: What are the “tools of the trade” for a fisherman? There are fishing poles and small nets, large nets, and fishing traps. I am sure there is much more I haven’t mentioned. But you can own all the bells and whistles for fishing equipment and still not catch any fish. I think it is important to settle on a few basic tools and learn how to improvise from there. What works for one person isn’t always the best thing for another. And what works for deep sea fishing isn’t really useful from the shore. 

What tools has God given you — uniquely craft during your lifetime of circumstances and experiences? Have you considered your faith in God’s work in your life is the most important piece of equipment you carry into the ministry He is doing through you?

While I do not like to give satan too much credit, it is important to keep some awareness of his desire and goal to tear down and block God’s Kingdom work and distract God’s people. Take note–satan also uses various access points and equipment. Some of it the very same as you or I might be working with which might be confusing for those who are not yet able to discern between God’s activity and satan’s.

Spend some time in prayer thanking God for your history. We each have difficult things in our past but I believe He is knitting together our past with our present for work He has for our future. Who knows? You may be called to fish from the shore but you may also be called to do some deep sea fishing!  Follow His lead!

License & Location

(part 2 of 5)

A good rule of thumb for fishing is to have permission to do it. A permit allows you to fish many places, but not all. Always consult with the owner of the property where the water is located. If you are on private property, I don’t know that you need a license but you certainly need permission.

As soon as I thought about permission being granted I started thinking about Job. Let’s take a look at the conversation between satan and the Lord in Job 1:6-12 :

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (NIV 1984)

Not only was permission granted: Job was suggested. But that is another topic for another day.

God called the disciples – actual experienced fisherman –  to be “fishers of men”. God calls us today to be fishers of men, but we aren’t the only ones fishing. Satan is also “on location”! While satan is powerful, God is the Almighty. And while it is good to be aware of satan and his minions, it is far better to know God and study how He works! 

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. [Matthew 4:18-20 NIV 1984]

Jesus used the fishers of men analogy because it works. It is easy for a fisherman to see the parallels. I love it when God uses common language to express His extraordinary Truth, don’t you?


Don Kayaking
Don Kayaking

(part 1 of 5)

I am not a big fisherman but Don, my husband, always enjoys fishing. He enjoys being out in nature and mostly  enjoys the challenge but considers himself just a recreational fisherman. A few years ago we bought Don a kayak so he could fish from on the water instead of next to it.  Don has a few different poles and a tackle box full of lures and sometimes he even buys a tub of night crawlers. Don catches a few fish on occasion but he doesn’t keep any because he is a big catch-and-release guy.  Here are the things Don takes into consideration when he goes fishing:

Licence: This let’s Don fish legally. He doesn’t leave home without it!
Location: Ideally, Don is trying to find hungry fish or at least ones who will “take the bait”.
Access point: Don has fished next to the water but wasn’t successful so he moved to “on” the water. Some people fish from “in” the water.
Equipment: Don has various poles he takes out when he fishes. He switches it up for variety but he also likes to have a “back up” in case something goes wrong with his favorite.
Lures: He’s got a tackle box full of shiny, tempting things.
Bait: Sometimes he will use minnows and earthworms but not very often.
Intention: Even though he is a catch-and-release guy there is no denying it, some fish do get wounded in this process.
Over the next few days we look at the tools of the trade for fishing from a different vantage point. For now, pray for those who fish for their livelihood.  I imagine it can be a very dangerous job.