Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

12 August 2009

Anglers Angling

"Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to buy descent tackle on a philosopher's salary."
American Writer Patrick McManus


Last week at this time I was sitting out on a rock in the middle of Lake Temagami with my Ipod on and my Bible open... just looking and listening. It was beautiful and refreshing both physically and spiritually. I've always loved northern lakes. Every year since we were adult enough to have one of those mandatory wooden frames in our kitchen, my parents have bought me the "Cottage Life" calender that fits into the frame for Christmas so I can gaze every morning at a glossy reproduction of someone's peaceful oasis. It's breathably nice. But last week I realized again... that it's a nice place to visit but I couldn't live there.

Today on my lunch break, I sat on a bench looking down the escarpment at the city of Hamilton below (thinking about my city...Brantford). From my perch on the bench, seeing the flurry of city life below made me think of last week's fishing experience and Jesus's invitation to Peter and Andrew of, "
Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men". Seeing the city with perspective from above... it was almost like I could just cast out a line and starting fishing for souls. This is the kind of fishing that gets my blood pumping. Men-fishing.

I hadn't fished in likely 15-20 years but I knew I couldn't spend a week on lake with friends and a son who loved it without joining in. So I fished. I remembered the parts I liked about fishing and the parts I didn't too. More than anything it was a wonderful refresher about the realities of fishing that are important to apply to man-fishing trip with Jesus.

A phrase that God always rings with conviction in my mind when I see men making man-things of far greater importance than they should be... is "
Anglers Angling". Everyone seems to always have a selfish angle to conversation, relationship, business. An intentionally schemed angle that is played with personally beneficial results in mind. Not necessarily destructive... but an angle none the less.

The word angler means both "A planner who draws up a personal scheme of action" AND "One who fishes with a hook". A fisherman. What Jesus asked his disciples to be. It's something that takes skills too. Fish don't just jump into boats. The "fishers of men" scripture in Mark 1 is very similar to this in Matthew 4.

18As 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. 19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 20At once they left their nets and followed him. 21Going 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, 22and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.


To fish... you need a plan. You need to spend TIME doing it. You need to know what you're trying to catch... and you need to select the correct bait too. There IS a lot of angling in men-fishing too. Paul, in trying to explain salvation and spiritual bodies to men-fishers in 1 Corinthians 15:39 said:

All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.


Fish take bait on an impulse. All of the conditions are just right for their flesh to react to the proper stimulus and the end result is our fillet dinner. Men are different. More complex. But still fishable.

Looking over Hamilton I saw homes with thousands of little fish swimming around who on the surface look different. Carp, Goldfish, Walleye, Salmon, Bass, Pike, Perch. They are all so different. Different eating patterns. Different spawning runs. Variant personalities. And we're supposed to catch 'em all.

When I hear God whispering "
Anglers Angling" into my ear... it's usually with a tone of disgust to spur me into "Thy Kingdom Come" prayer. It's gives me the sense of "they're not seeing the big picture here. They are skillfully fishing for something that isn't worth fishing for. And they'll likely catch it because they've studied and planned. But they couldn't be fishing for something better!"

It's interesting to note what comes after Jesus calling to the fishermen in BOTH Mark 1 and Matthew 4. In both chapters, it's followed by stories about Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons... along with his new followers. He went fishing for men (while teaching others to do it too), using heavenly bait that the world couldn't replicate.

Matthew 4 :23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 24 News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. 25 Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.


This morning Rick Warren twittered this:


  • Sociology = The study of human social behavior
  • Soteriology = The theological doctrine of salvation as effected by Jesus Christ

Here's the thing. Rick does BOTH. He learns about and serves who he is fishing for... man. But the key to effective baiting is that one IS more important than the other. Jesus said in John 6:44
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him..." via the Holy Spirit. He draws the fish to the baited hook... but HE'S not the fisherman. We are. We are called to be informed, skilled, patient, and knowledgeable men-fishers. We need to know our fish inside. We need to be prepared to have our boats filled with men-fish...

... and then be OK with not catching a single thing too. Fishing can be like that. We have to be able to sleep well knowing that even a bad day out on the water fishing with Jesus is better than any old "successful" day of angling for chaff.

"Soon after I embraced the sport of angling I became convinced that I should never be able to enjoy it if I had to rely on the cooperation of the fish."
Sparse Grey Hackle


"The best fisherman I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again; instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them."

John Gierach "Fly Fishing the High Country"




The good news however... you will catch fish. And you'll love it.





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