Monday, October 27, 2014

The Best Fisherman

Over the past 10 weeks our Sunday messages have been about fishing.  I hope we have focused on fishing from a Biblical perspective of fishing for people as Jesus calls ALL of His disciples to the daily vocation of telling others about His kingdom, His healing and His grace.

We will end our series this week with a reminder of God's sovereignty and power to lead us to great things.  We will also talk about Jesus as the Great Shepherd of his sheep and the very best fisherman. 

As I have searched and read about the subject of fishing, I remember taking my grandsons out fishing.  My focus wasn't on how many fish I would catch.  I wanted them to catch a fish and know the joy of having lured the fish onto the line and into the boat.  I wonder ... is this how Jesus feels about us?  Maybe Jesus knows that the greatest joy we can have is sacrificially giving our time, energy, sweat, effort, resources and, if necessary, even our very lives so another person might have the greatest "catch" of all ... the knowledge they are reconciled with God and redeemed by His blood of forgiveness and grace.  Maybe this is the best reason to "fish" for people.  Not to add members to the role (though this is not inherently a bad thing).  Not to see attendance increase (though we would all like that).  Not to boast of our great catch (which pastors do far too often).  We "catch" people and bring them into the body of Christ so God can do His great things in their lives.  The Bible says when this plays out there is healing, forgiveness, joy, peace, redemption, reconciliation, and love ... all through the grace of a God who could be aloof and distant but has chosen to be close and relational.  THAT is why I fish ... how about you?


Monday, October 20, 2014

Less is More

Over time I have learned that the axiom "Less Is More" is both valid and useful in daily life.  This is especially true in kayak fishing where space is limited.  I take six basic things with me when I fish on my kayak. 
   1) my life preserver strapped to the front of the kayak, easily removable for use if needed - The other day I was at Point Washington an a barge came by.  It was huge and beside my little kayak I was dwarfed.  The barge made a formidable wake and I was glad the life preservers were within reach.
   2) a paddle - I have actually driven out of my driveway without a paddle, an obvious necessity since  you can't even leave the shore without a paddle.
   3) an anchor - My anchor is a good one, able to grab the sand and hold steady even when the tide is rushing out. 
   4) 2 rods and reels - Fishing is pretty bland without them. I take two in case something happens to one of them.
   5) my little fishing tackle box - I have separate boxes for salt or fresh water fishing.  I keep the amount of tackle small, because less IS more!  There are hooks, line, a knife, lures, special fishing rigs and a pair of pliers (removing hooks from catfish can be problematic).
   6) my stringer - Hey, I go out with confidence that I will actually catch something!

Jesus also knew "Less Is More."  In Matthew 10 He sends out the disciples on a different kind of fishing trip ... fishing for people.  Jesus' minimalist approach makes me look extravagant.  He says, don't take 1) money, 2) a traveler's bag, 3) a walking stick.  I love the way The Message says ... "You don't need a lot of equipment.  YOU are the equipment."

It is both scary and reassuring that God thinks that we, with all our faults and issues, are adequate (with God's Spirit guiding) to reach the world for Jesus.

Sunday let's share together about what Jesus thinks ought to be in our tackle box when we fish for people.  Randy

Monday, October 13, 2014

Solunar Tables

I don't want to go hi-tech on you but when you are fishing you want to give yourself the best advantage possible.  Of course you choose lures and bait that are what the fish like.  But there are other factors.  Last Friday and Saturday I was at the Choctawhatchee Bay fishing.  I noticed that the fish were feeding and not feeding based pretty accurately on what are known as solunar tables.  These mathematical calculations predict the times when fish are likely to feed based on tides, and the position of the sun and the moon.  It might sound a bit astrological but it is more the pull of gravity, the times for the tides and whether the tides are incoming or outgoing.  The best site for bay fishing is called .  It makes the process simple enough for even me.  At the bottom of the tide chart you will see little fish.  The more fish, the better the day to fish.  While weather, wind and other factors are important, I have found that the solunar tables put more fish on my table, and that is a good thing.

In our fishing for people I was wondering if we could maybe think out-of-the-box and gain some extra insight on when and how the "fish" will feed?  Here some thoughts.

We know the Spirit (pheuma or wind in the Greek) blows where it will.  Maybe finding the fish in the mood to feed might mean we need to be attentive to listening and perceiving the Spirit.  John Wesley thought that our spirit and God's Spirit were in communication and that if we were listening, attentive to the means of grace and in fellowship with God and people we would perceive these movements.  Thursday night of last week I could feel, hear, smell and taste the Spirit as it moved through the room while we sang, "A thousand times I've failed, still your mercy remains!"  God's Spirit moves when people are reminded that God is faithful even when we are not.

I have often felt there was a great gap between the language of the Church and the language of culture.  While I am not suggesting we dilute any of the message, it would seem prudent to examine the institution of the Church and get rid of anything that is not a movement of God.  John Wesley worried that while the people (institution) called Methodists would persist the power of God might become lost in the structure.  We must constantly be careful to remember that God's Church has always been a movement of scattered, uncomfortable but fulfilled and passionate people.  Let's speak the language of our present age while speaking the truth of the Gospel.

Finally, do you remember how Jesus was not afraid to get rid of the "dead horses?"  Jesus looked around and say sheep without a shepherd because the shepherds had displaced God's purpose with their purpose.  When I fish I change tactics if the current tactic is not working.  If something in our daily operation is not working or not reaching the "fish" we are trying to catch, we must be willing to change, modify or eliminate that non-functioning method.

In the end we are trying to bring the fish into God's great net.  They might be dirty, stinky, slimy and not our cup of tea.  But I am reminded of a T-shirt that said, "St. Peter's Fishing Company.  We Catch Em, He Cleans Em."

Monday, October 6, 2014


Do you remember the A-Team?  I loved what Hannibal used to say.  When things worked out he would say ... "I love it when a plan comes together."  So, I'm going to say that phrase with a few caveats.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  I love it when a plan comes together but I need to remember (v:11) they are God's plans and things work out best if I latch on to His plan rather than make one of my own.  This is hard for me because I love the creative side of doing things.  But God is the master creator and He is way better at planning than I am.  I must become less so He can become more in this great plan.

The second caveat is one that is a necessity if I want the plan to happen right.  I must do my part while seeking Him every moment.  He is in the process.  He is in the people.  He is in the prayer.  He is part of the story that is unfolding and I will miss seeing His handiwork if I work without keeping seeking eyes on what God is doing.

Yesterday we met in our Administrative Board session at NOON.  It was good to share the Good News of how God's plan for AUMC is unfolding.  It seems that the seed for Red Bird Mission and Belize that has been planted by faithful people here is growing and spreading it's roots out to other churches and other denominations.  There was a day when this might have been a bit intimidating because it means we (at AUMC) must give up some control.  But then I reflected on God's plan expressed in a long prayer in the Gospel of John.  Verse 17:22-23 says "The glory you have given me I have given them so that they may be one as we are one.  I in them and you in me, that they may be completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and I have loved them as you have loved me."  I believe God's great power and glory are shown more in our unity than almost any other way (at least to those looking in from outside).  When we forget our divisions and remember our mission, our purpose and our calling it points straight to Jesus and God the Father.  I love it when a plan comes together!  Randy