Fishing is a Fantastic Hobby; What’s More, It is a Way of Life

There was once a group of professional fishermen who loved fishing. As they plied their trade near the shore, a man approached them with a surprising invitation. “Jesus said, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, NIV) This verse about fishing contains a world of information about life, purpose, and ministry. Don’t miss THIS:

Unmissable Words

It starts with the important phrase, “Jesus said”. The words of Jesus are not just random comments from an itinerant Jewish Rabbi, they are powerful and eternal. In Matthew 24:35, he promised, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” So far, so good. In John 6:63 he explained, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life”. When other followers turned away, Peter’s response recognized how important it was to pay attention to Jesus’ words, when he said, “Lord to whom [else] would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).

It’s important to note that the disciples recognized that following Jesus was optional. They didn’t HAVE to leave their vocations. They all had a choice. But when they chose, they were all in. They bet their livelihood and their lives on following a relatively unknown Rabbi. They were taking their futures, their occupations, and their happiness and betting them on Jesus. It’s what he challenged them to do. Come to think of it, isn’t that what he calls all of us to do?

A Unique Call?

Secondly, Jesus said, “Follow me.” This is what Jesus calls all of us to do, but even those of us who SAY we follow Jesus, really don’t. (Ever wonder why Jesus used certain analogies, and whether he was a good teacher? Look at his recorded teachings sometime, and how what he said related to where they were or what was happening; he was a master at connecting the dots for his audience and drawing them into his lesson.) In this case, Jesus was talking to professional fishermen, so when he mentioned fishing, he had their attention.

fishing

The men Jesus addressed HERE responded in a radical way: “immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:22) They left their livelihood, their heritage, and their families to hear what Jesus had to say. What have you left to follow him? What is it that pushes him back to second or third (or tenth!) place in your time, your priorities, and your schedule? Perhaps “follow” meant something more to Peter, James, and John than casual acquaintance and hanging together a couple of hours in church every week…

But when you love something, isn’t that how it is? You love it so much that you’re willing to invest money, resources and time to chase a dream or perform a mission. Yeah guys, you can mentally compare what you spend on fishing, golf, hunting, cars, etc. to how much you invest in your spiritual life… (Or ladies, you can compare what you spend on clothes/jewelry/Nick-knacks/girls’ trips, etc…) Face it: following Jesus meant more to the disciples than it does to us.

Invest in Fish

Finally, he calls the disciples to continue fishing. He relates ministry to what they know, and asks them to transfer their skills from commerce to the Kingdom of God. When the fishermen heard that, I feel pretty sure that they immediately thought of all they knew about fishing: Preparation is important. You have to mend your nets, inspect your ropes, patch your sails, and check your boat. Know the right places to go fish (Go where the fish are). Get up early. Use the right bait. Cast your nets wisely. Love what you do. Take all the time you need. Persevere. Be patient. Have fun! Be passionate… Fishing…

A Vocational Change?

Jesus walked upon the shore, along the Sea of Galilee
And saw some brothers fishing. And he said to them, “Come follow me.”
They stopped their casting to consider what he said, and then
He told them he would make them fishers not of fish, but men.
They left their nets behind, to see if this new Rabbi by the Sea
Could train them up so they would prove the truth of his analogy.
Do you have curiosity? Read Acts. The rest is history.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

How Can We have Eternal Impact in a Temporary World?

In every generation, men strive for greatness. Every generation wants to be known forever, to have eternal impact. From King Ozymandias, to Hitler, to Mohammed Ali, men have wanted to be immortalized as (and use your best Ali voice here, or at least, Billy Crystal DOING Mohammed Ali) “the Greatest… of ALL TIME!” Athletic contests are said to be “making history”, and athletes are called “legends”. (I suppose because their feats would live on forever in fame and glory: Quick, who was the greatest athlete in 1958?)

Sports fans love to argue endlessly about the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), whether it’s Ali vs Tyson, Jordan vs LeBron (or some say Kobe, but nah!), or Nicklaus vs Tiger. Some might even argue about who challenges Tom Brady, but I really don’t see anybody close enough to challenge his career accomplishments at this time.

(If you’re not sure who Ozymandias is, he was a cruel king who proclaimed his own might and built his own monument. His inscription, ironically, showed just how vain his self-proclaimed glory was. So, here you go, the poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley:)

Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

eternal

If you need a reminder about Mohammed Ali, he was a great heavyweight boxer in the 1960’s who made up poetry and made headlines by being a conscientious objector to the war in Viet Nam after becoming a Muslim. He, too proclaimed his own glory, and claimed to be the greatest “of ALL TIME”. (Where the acronym for GOAT cam from, I guess…)

eternal greatest

The Bible says having eternal impact is possible, just not in the way Ali thought. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, NIV). “For you have been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever “. (1 Peter 1:23, NKJV) “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17, NIV).

Making Eternal Impact

If you want to have eternal impact, consider this: You only touch only two things in this world that are immortal, two things that will outlast heaven and earth. These are two things that you will encounter not only here on earth but also in eternity itself… One of them is the Word of God. It will not pass away even though the world will fall. (And hey, it’s still here after 2000 years, so it’s doing pretty well so far…) This makes sense in a way because the written word is an expression of the Living Word, who is the second person of the Trinity.

Eternity will involve being intimate with the Word of God, of knowing Him just as he knows us. Everlasting life will not be the end, but a means to another end, and the Word of God, which abides forever, will be a living, dynamic part of our eternal journey. Think about it this way: “Home” is wonderful not because of the floor plan or the bricks or mortar, but because of the words we receive there, words of love and affirmation. We love going Home because of the relationships there.

Heaven won’t be amazing because it has streets of gold, but because we will be welcomed there as family who have been adopted by the Word of God. We will have an eternity in our new home to get to know Him and to grow in his wisdom and love.

Eternal Conversations

The second eternal thing we will experience long after we leave this world is all around you, and something we all encounter every day. It’s people. It is the souls of men, which are all destined for eternal life one way or another.

eternal impact

C. S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” Think about that: Everyone you know will live forever. What friendships and conversations will we carry forward? We think of our earthly legacy, but I believe we are also here creating a legacy that will go with us when we transition into eternity.

Peter says that everyone born again will be incorruptible, and John says that whoever does the will of God lives forever. The relationships that begin here in a corruptible world will outlast it, carried by the will of God into the endless eons of eternity. So think about that. Every day you have the opportunity to invest in short-term, temporary things, or you can invest in eternal things. Charles Thomas Studd, an exceptional cricketer and missionary in the 19th century said “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” I put it like this:

Eternal Difference Makers

Living in a world that’s messed,
Men will strut and pound their chest
And strive to be the very best.
To be the greatest, pass this test;
“On earth, two things outlast the rest:
Friends and the Word. Invest. Invest!”
Eternal investment, eternally blessed.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-

Foundation: Build Your House Upon the Rock That Won’t Roll

In Mark 6, Jesus’ teaching apparently surprised some of his neighbors. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.(Mark 6:3) There are several things we could focus upon in their questions, but for today’s observation, let’s keep it simple: they knew Jesus as a carpenter, which makes him eminently qualified to teach about foundations.

He That Has Ears…

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his foundation on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27, NIV)

foundation

When it comes to building, everything in the structure depends on the foundation. Jesus knew about construction because he was a carpenter (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3), so his statement about what makes a house strong is more than just common sense, it is a professional opinion.

It’s What’s Underneath that Counts

If you think about a foundation, it is below the surface, something that you can’t really see, that doesn’t draw your attention. We spend far more time looking at the aesthetic details of a house than at its foundation; but if the foundation fails, all the designer details fail with it. If the house collapses, then the wall texture, the upgraded light fixtures and the crown molding have all become worthless. It’s not only true about construction, it’s also true about life.

Shifting Sands

Whatever philosophy or religion you choose to build upon better have a good foundation. In our world we build upon all sorts of foundations. Some of them are authentic, and some of them are not. Even when they are not true, people still build elaborate structures upon them, and then add many details to draw your eye away from the foundation. The shifting sands of falsehood may hold things up for a while, but Jesus said that such structures will ultimately fall. He also said, “Whoever hears these sayings of mine, and DOES THEM” is a wise person who has built on the rock.

Bedrock

What do you think of Jesus’ sayings? How many of them are you familiar with? Jesus taught somewhere between 33 and 60 parables, depending on who is keeping score and how you define and count them. They are all in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) although some scholars feel that the Good Shepherd and the Vine are parables in John’s Gospel as well. How many can you name? I know a lot of people who think they know about Jesus but couldn’t name more than four or five of his parables… Have you ever actually read them all? Have you ever thought about practicing what they preach?

I think if you give them careful consideration, you just might find that Jesus 1) was incredibly wise, and 2) offers a solid foundation upon which to build your life. Napoleon Bonaparte is reported to have said this: ““Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but on what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”

History proves that Napoleon was right. Those empires are all gone, swept away by the shifting sands of time and deceit. The Kingdom of God remains, secure upon the rock. Jesus said, (Matt 24:35) “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away.” Did he tell the truth? So far, so good…

Foundation

Napoleon and Caesar both had armies to command,
But history shows their empires were just built on shifting sand.
Jesus recommended that we build upon his sayings,
When storms and wind descend and we can feel our structure swaying.
Know the things that Jesus taught, and what he had to say;
His words will stand forever, though all else will pass away.
Build a firm foundation on His message and His calling:
When trouble comes, His wisdom may just keep your house from falling.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread