I have a propensity toward crime fiction but only a few authors in particular. I institute this limitation because of my habit of frequenting used bookstores. While at these bookstores I tend to acquire an authors entire catalog. This can be a costly “investment” that Tara frowns upon. Here is a very good article that relates crime fiction to theology if interested.
Other than war tragedies my next favorite genre would be fishing oriented. Hand me any book that involves a person trying to catch a fish and it will become an annual read. I will also cry.
A River Runs Through It, I cry every year. (Twice in 2017). Islands in the Stream, tears. The Old Man and the Sea, goner. Big Two Hearted River, I am actually welling up writing the title. Moby Dick? I only read that once (except the Jonah Sermon) and it drove me to tears and borderline madness. I am not a fisherman but the trope has me.
Currently at our Sunday Gatherings we are studying through the Gospel of Mark. At the beginning of Mark we read this:
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
The Old Testament roots of this “Fishers of Men” phrase is enlightening and also explanatory in its connotation:
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.
“Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes. But first I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.”
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of trouble,
to you shall the nations come
from the ends of the earth and say:
“Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies,
worthless things in which there is no profit.
Can man make for himself gods?
Such are not gods!”
“Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the LORD.”
Peter and Andrew were the first called to this great mission of hauling God’s people back to the place that they should be. With Him. Only this time it would be in and through the person of Jesus. Also this time it would include an “unholy” mixed bag of sinful people and not just the regular ole unfaithful lot.
Peter, Andrew, James, and John fished with nets. The first time that I saw someone club a trout over the head after bringing it in on a dry-fly I knew that I was meant to be a fly fisherman. Assuming I would ever brave touching the slippery critters, I am not.
How should you fish? Casing a wide net and pulling in as many as will come. Or targeting the dark little hole where the ones that need to be caught hang out.
The good news is that we do not have to choose. And the great part about church planting specifically (and church ministry generally) is that you get to choose both.
Mass evangelism and dining room table discipleship are both a part of the call.
Sometimes you cast the gospel net wide. Other times you cast the fly at a specific time and a specific place. Both take practice. Both take care. Both take God the Holy Spirit to be working in hearts and though his proclaimed word to be effective.
We currently have several young men in the church who come for the obvious reason, a girl. Others come because they are saved and understand they are a part of Christ’s body. Others come and know there is something in this Good News that I am sharing every week that is unlike everything else they hear.
They do not need a second experience. They do not need to be morally purified before they hear the Word or are cared for by God’s People. They do not need to be pandered to. They do not need to be gently eased into belief. They need Good News.
They need Good News that frees them from sin. They need Good News that reels them ever closer to Jesus, their Salvation. They need Good News that does not lay a burden of works. Good News that requires nothing and gifts everything.
There are good and right out-workings of the Gospel in each believers life. Yet everyone who preaches to these young men demand something from them. A financial seed to be sown. Their bodies. Their livers. Their brains. Every god of this world and religion of our hearts demands something from them to feel salvation. A “salvation” that fails and fade. Like the fading effects of a fat wallet, physical pleasure, the dulling of alcohol, and the escape of drugs.
Each Sunday morning the net gets cast wide. The Biblical text is laid out. An attempt is made to remove those obstacles that would impede people from hearing. Our self-righteousness is exposed by God’s requirements and Jesus’ fulfillment of those requirements. Then the Good News is lovingly stuffed into people’s ears. The prayer is that it will proceed down their throats and wind up planted deep in their souls and growing roots. We pray the next time they pick up their Bibles or gather back with everyone those roots are fertilized and watered.
I am not mixing metaphors as much as I am wildly swinging my fists trying to land one punch on the truth that this privilege of Gospel ministry and preaching is precious and incalculably valuable in out maturation as well.
Last week we introduced a new song to our church family, He Will Hold Me Fast
, which sounds very lovey-dovey at first. But when you consider it in the context of Jesus keeping you saved instead of a bearhug it does not seem so warm and fuzzy. It reminds me more of a parent who violently grips ahold of their children and knocks their wind out pulling them from the street just before a car can destroy them.
Our current state of family and ministry which has been filled with sickness, sleeplessness, and strained and splintered relationships. And is filled with heart wrenching joy over the Person and Work of Jesus. This reminder of being held fast is necessary and not taken for granted.
And for those that we get to share this Gospel with on a daily and weekly basis the comfort of being kept by Christ (1 Peter 1.3-7) continues not just on a day that we are gifted repentance and faith but for every day afterward as well.
We love you all. Thank you for your continued faithfulness in our lives and for being a part of Team McComas.