[Note: Our guest contributor, Terry Cooper, is the pastor of Ninevah Christian Church in Lawrenceburg, KY. This article is adapted from a recent “Word from Terry” message to his congregation.]
We currently have seven grandchildren (five boys and two girls) and number eight (Henry) is scheduled to arrive in June. One of my jobs is to teach each of them to fish as soon as they come of age. Now let me explain something about fishing with small grandchildren. It’s more like surviving at the water’s edge than actually fishing. Especially if I take more than one at a time.
The first time I took my grandson Ryder fishing was an extraordinary adventure. Ryder was anxious to go and when the fishing day finally arrived, he was so excited… until… that first fish was lifted out of the water. When Ryder saw that fish flipping around, he took off running as fast as he could and didn’t stop. You would have thought that the Loch Ness Monster had appeared to eat young Ryder. That was the end of our fishing day. Our first catch brought the adventure to an abrupt ending. He was terrified by the fish.
A few days went by, and Ryder said he wanted to try it again and this time he promised that he wouldn’t be afraid. It was at that point that we made an agreement that has been in place ever since. The agreement was based on two things.
- No scaredy business
- No whining
Ryder promised that he would comply with these two fishing rules. He promised not to be afraid when we catch a fish and no whining about the fishing conditions (bugs, snakes, weather, fishing worms, or other cousins that were competing with him on that trip).
It took a while, but I must admit that Ryder has honored our agreement. He is now putting the worms on the hook by himself and putting the fish in the basket without running for the hills.
That brings me to my point. It’s time to talk to the Church about fishing. Something is happening at Ninevah Christian Church and other places around the world (Asbury for example). We didn’t start it, but we can sure recognize that the Holy Spirit is at work.
For us, it began on January 22nd. We broke 1,000 in attendance for Sunday morning worship. Not just once, but for the following four weeks. Then on February 19th, we broke 1,100 and on February 26th we broke 1,200. In early March, 1,236 people came to NCC to worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We have baptized 15 people since January 26 and multitudes have come to the altar to confess and repent of sin, rededicating their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Something is happening! Is this about reaching some attendance goal? No! But each of those numbers is a human soul. A soul that will spend eternity somewhere. A soul that Jesus died to save. What shepherd doesn’t count his sheep to make sure that they are all safe and healthy?
This is where my fishing agreement with Ryder applies to the Church. No scaredy business and no whining. People are asking, “What are we going to do?” The parking lots are overrun and it’s getting difficult to find a seat in the Worship Center. No scaredy business and no whining. Why?
Because we are fishing. We are fishing under the authority and power of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Jesus knows His sheep by name and His sheep know His voice and follow Him. Jesus doesn’t want us to be afraid while we’re fishing, and He certainly doesn’t want us to mess up the great fishing adventure with our fearful whining while He’s adding fish to the boat (the Church).
Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” (Mark 1:17, NLT).
Right now, our main job is to FOLLOW JESUS. He’s got this. This is His Church! These fish are His people, the blood-bought children of the Most High God. We’ve been invited to join Him in the great fishing adventure. I’m not sure about what will come next, but I feel confident in this. No scaredy business and no whining will certainly apply to this fishing trip with Jesus.
I ask you to read carefully the following fishing story of Jesus:
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you understand all these things? “Yes,” they said, “we do.”
– Matthew 13:47-51 NLT
This is why we will keep fishing until He comes for us. This fishing trip is urgent; for souls are at stake.
Let’s keep fishing!