Fishing for Souls

I wrote this post a few years ago but thought it might be appropriate to post along with Darryl Bradford’s most recent “Meet The Faculty” Video. Here’s another about Michael Barrett.

What is a minister of the Gospel? The most common answers include models like Shepherd, Servant, Preacher, Theologian, Teacher, Counselor, Leader, and so on.

But one model that’s rarely thought about or spoken about today is the first model that Jesus used – Fisherman (Matt. 4:19).

My favorite hobby probably biases me here but I believe fishing for souls is one of the most powerful models of Christian ministry and must be re-prioritized. It’s such a perfect metaphor for both the fish (sinners) and the fishermen (pastors/witnesses) that I’ll leave you to make the obvious applications.

The Fish

Fish love water: They are comfortable there, have no desire to leave it, and will stay there even if the water is polluted and is killing them.

Fish are suspicious: They are wary, sensitive, fearful, easily spooked, and spend their life hiding.

Fish fight: They fight with passion when caught, even after being caught, and even with their last breath.

Fish are frustrating: They are unpredictable, annoying, baffling, discouraging, and even depressing.

Fish are worth catching: But when caught, what satisfaction, what enjoyment, what memories, what tales!

The Fishermen

Passionate: He loves fish and loves to catch fish. It’s all his one-track mind thinks about.

Optimistic: He goes out expecting to catch and confident of catching no matter how misplaced his confidence seems to others (especially his wife).

Opportunistic: He looks for every little window of opportunity to get to the river or the lake. He keeps his tackle handy so that every time he passes a stretch of water that looks promising he can take the chance.

Equipped: He has a good, large, and strong net with no holes in it.

Skillful: He acquires many different skills and learns many different techniques and tactics

Sensitive: He has a sixth sense, an inexplicable feeling about just when and where the fish are about to bite. This is not about intelligence or education – it’s usually the result of long years of experience.

Sacrificial: He gives up time and money to fish. He gets up early and stays out late. He invests in equipment and training

Courageous: Sometimes he has to go into difficult and dangerous places to catch the biggest fish.

Patient: He spends time casting, casting, casting, even when the fish keep swimming away.

Persevering: He goes back time and again, even when he’s failed many times before, even when everyone tells him it’s useless.

Prayerful: He knows that only God can put fish in his net.

Happy: He enjoys fishing even when he doesn’t catch anything. It refreshes and energizes him (John 4:32).

Successful: When he’s successful, lot’s of people ask him “What did you use?” “What did you do?” He’s happy to share his secret, because it is no secret. “I follow the Master Fisherman (Matthew 4:19). I stay close to Him, watch Him, imitate Him, love Him, and obey Him.”

Check out


To Be A Diaper Changer – Reformation21 Blog
Nick takes on unbiblical views of vocation:

A “change the world” mentality often ironically serves as a catalyst for discontentment or undue guilt. The common failures and frustrations experienced in the mundane day-in and day-out aspects of life tend to leave those who had hoped for more importance jaded or calloused as the years progress.

Such a mentality also has the adverse effect of inadvertently leading others to dismiss the importance of the work of the mother who faithfully changes her children’s diapers, drives them to sporting and music practices, takes them to the doctor, keeps up the organizational aspects of life at home and serves with her husband in many unnoticed capacities at church. It tells the man who humbly hangs a sign for a church plant each and every Friday night and takes it down every Sunday night that what he is doing is insignificant. It implicitly disrespects the man who gets up at 5:30 every morning and who comes home at 7:30 every night (and who then repeats that process 6 days a week for 25 years) from his job in a factory.

Why Francis Chan is radically wrong
Continues in a similar vein to Nick’s article above. You don’t need to accept the whole Family Integrated Church Movement’s ideas to agree with many of these points.

Whom Do You Serve—the Dragon or the Lamb?
I’ve just started reading this much-needed book

Though 2017 is barely underway, it’s safe to say The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb will be one of the year’s most important ministry books. Every ministry leader will benefit from this wake-up call for many who’ve embraced less-than-biblical attitudes toward power. It should lead some to weep, as they contemplate how much of their ministry will be burned up in the end (1 Cor. 3:12–14). It should also serve as a fresh call to Spirit-led ministry, flowing from humble abiding in Jesus (John 15:1–5).

The 4 Types of Ineffective Apologies
From the Harvard Business Review. Hopefully Christians can raise the standard even higher.

Apologizing isn’t easy, and many people do it only part way, insincerely, or not at all. And in doing so, they miss out on key opportunities for relationship repair. With this in mind, let’s take a quick tour of four common forms of ineffective apologizing I’ve noticed in my work. See if any of them resonate with your experience.”

7 powerful quotes from ‘Jane Roe’ of Roe v. Wade
Norma McCorvey, also known as “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, was the plaintiff that attorneys, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, used in the Texas court case that struck down all laws against abortion throughout the United States. Today, McCorvey is pro-life.

Kindle Books

Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John Macarthur $2.99.

The Gospel according to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach by Bryan Chapell $2.99.

A Crazy Pledge of Allegiance?

About fifteen years ago, we started home-schooling our two sons, Allan and Angus. The concept of Christian education was rare in Scotland with only a handful of tiny Christian schools in the whole nation. Also, the idea of home-schooling your kids was totally weird to most people. However, I had long before decided from my own terrible childhood experience of Scottish public schools that putting them through the same system was not an option. So homeschooling it was.

With the total lack of Christian education curricula in Scotland, we turned to the USA and ordered a complete first grade curriculum from Abeka Book in Florida. I’ll never forget the day the UPS sack arrived in our home and all these wonderful books and other resources were spread out all over our kitchen table. I wept tears of joy that my kids were going to get taught every subject from a Christian perspective.

There was just one problem. Everything was American. The boys were learning American history, American geography, American currency, American spelling, American everything! Here we were in the remote highlands of Scotland, turning two little Scottish boys into experts on everything American. When we visited stores in Stornoway, they would say out loud, “How many dollars is this, Dad?” Strange looks all round. Thankfully they did not (yet) have American accents.

A Crazy Pledge?
It all came to a climax one day when I was teaching the boys American history and the lesson required them to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance. I remember looking out of the window across the Atlantic ocean towards America as they recited the pledge, and thinking, “What are we doing?” It seemed crazy. What possible point could there be in this? What a waste of time. It was almost treasonous!

Another time I was teaching them the State birds, and I specifically remember when we came to Michigan’s robin (much bigger than the British one, of course) and thinking, “We’ll never set foot in this place and here we are learning about its State bird!” Was I mad?

A Wise Providence
What I didn’t know was what God, in his wise and mysterious providence, had already planned for me and my family. Six years later I would be emigrating to the USA with my family. The kids were already “Americanized” and knew their nickels, dimes, and quarters better than I did. And now, today, fifteen years since my boys “pledged their allegiance,” we are heading to Detroit for our final US citizenship interviews. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

As I’ve been prepping for the American Civics questions, so many of the lessons I taught the boys are coming back to me. Angus hardly needed to study at all because it’s all so relatively recent and fresh to his young mind (Allan’s already a citizen through the US Marines).

There are so many times in life when we have no idea what God is doing with us or where he is taking us. It’s only later, sometimes many years later, that the seemingly crazy puzzle pieces begin to come together in a beautiful way. As Jesus said to someone else: ”What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this” (John 13:7).

Check Out


Overcoming 5 Types of Anger | David Dunham, RPM Ministries
“Not all anger is the same, and so counseling always needs to be person-specific. As you train yourself to understand the diversity of anger’s manifestations you will be better equipped to help those who are struggling with it.”

Jesus Loves the Rich| Nicholas T. Batzig, Feeding on Christ
“the Jesus of Scripture never showed partiality to the poor as over agains the rich. The Jesus of Scripture came into the world to redeem rich and poor. A brief survey of the Gospel record teaches us this important lesson–a lesson that we so desperately need to learn if we are to be faithful witnesses to the saving grace of God in Christ to all in in a day in which the rich are vilified by the poor. ”

Here’s A Primer On Pro-Life Responses To Common Counter-Arguments | Daniel Payne, The Federalist
“The ideas of the pro-life movement are much richer and more interesting than many commentators would have you believe.”

7 False Teachers in the Church Today | Tim Challies
“False teachers take on many forms, custom-crafted to times, cultures, and contexts. Here are seven of them you will find carrying out their deceptive, destructive work in the church today”

7 Ways to Do Political Punditry Wrong in a Polarized World | Kevin DeYoung, TGC
“Let’s briefly consider seven ways to do political punditry wrong in a polarized world.”

Saying No to More Work | Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review
“Most people have way more to do than they can possibly fit into their workweek. The smartest ones are constantly reprioritizing their to-do lists… To stop more things, or the wrong things, from creeping onto your list, you have to start saying no.”

David Beckham reveals the secret to his long-lasting marriage | Sam Haysom, Mashable
Not many celebrity marriages last twenty years. David Beckham has a simple explanation:

We stay together because we love each other; we stay together because we have four amazing children, and do you go through tough times? Of course you go through tough times. It’s part of relationships, it’s part of marriages, it’s part of having children, it’s part of having responsibilities.

Kindle Deals

The Next Story: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World by Tim Challies ($3.99)

The Pastor’s Ministry: Biblical Priorities for Faithful Shepherds by Brian Croft ($3.99)

Pray for the Flock: Ministering God’s Grace Through Intercession by Brian Croft and Ryan Fullerton ($2.99)


What are some common rookie preaching mistakes? | H. B. Charles, Jr.

Why Read “The Deacon”

Article written by Cornelis Van Dam, author of The Deacon.

A newly ordained deacon once asked me: what exactly am I supposed to do? The fact that he made that query was the initial impetus to the writing of this book, not just for the deacon, but also for the average member of a congregation.

Have you ever wondered what the biblical expectations for the deacons in your church are? This office is not always as appreciated as it should be. But, once you understand its biblical basis you will recognize that it is truly a tremendous gift of God. The blessings associated with it are incredible, even in congregations that are financially prosperous and do not appear to have many materially poor in their midst.

The diaconate isn’t just about money. This book hopes to demonstrate that the importance of the deacon goes far beyond simply providing for material needs. This office is all about everyone in the congregation sharing in the joy of salvation. To attain this understanding we need to consider this office within the context of the entire Bible and not just the New Testament.

Doing so raises interesting questions. Why was there no diaconal office in Old Testament Israel? How did God provide for the poor then? What are the implications and principles for us today? Working through the New Testament material will also help us to understand why God granted this office to the church as well as his current expectations for this office. You may wonder why Rome has a completely different idea of the deacon than Protestant churches. Such queries can be answered by investigating the early history of this office in the patristic and medieval church and considering what happened at the Reformation with its determination to return to the biblical roots of the office.

Each age in the history of the church has its own challenges in applying the biblical instructions on the diaconate to today’s pressing issues. This book seeks to address the questions that are raised. Should the diaconal office not be open to women? Is there still really any need for the diaconal office with government safety nets, welfare agencies, and insurances that can take care of just about anything. But what about the poor in the less developed parts of the world? What task do deacons have concerning this crying need?

This book addresses these and other related questions without letting the theoretical exclude the practical. Understanding the biblical demands and expectations for the diaconal office yields important useful principles and advice for deacons today. To facilitate discussion the book contains questions for discussion and reflection as well as suggestions for further reading.

It is my hope that this book may help equip and encourage deacons and enable members of the church to grow in appreciation of the diaconal task. This office is indispensable for the health of the church.

The Deacon by Cornelis van Dam

Online Bible Commentary Resources

My thanks to Travis Fentiman for providing this resource.

Just now, the best and largest Bible Commentary collection on the net has been made fully available:

Bible Commentaries – ReformedBooksOnline   2,200+ works

It includes:

– Every commentary that Charles Spurgeon gave his top recommendation (3 stars  *** ) and ‘good’ recommendation (2 stars  ** ) to in his Commenting and Commentaries  (1876);

– Every Reformed, Puritan or otherwise good commentary we could find on PRDL and EEBO that is in English;

– Every relevant commentary mentioned by Dr. Richard Muller in his survey of the major Reformation and Puritan era commentaries in McKim’s Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters that is in English and online;

– Most of the older Bible commentaries that a Bible-believer would be interested in, that are free online (in the public domain, pre-1920’s);

– The best of the commentaries listed in Cyril J. Barber’s The Minister’s Library (1974), including his top recommendations;

– The major commentaries from the Early and Medieval Churches that have been translated into English;

– And many more.

The majority of these commentaries are fully available and free online. The best ones are at the top of each page.

For the first time, the best Bible commentaries throughout Church history have been made conveniently available in one place to all lovers of God’s Word, Bible students, pastors, missionaries, and translators throughout the world, for anyone that has an internet connection, for free.

Bible Commentaries – ReformedBooksOnline   2,200+ works