"As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.'"(Mark 1:16-17, NASB)
We have now been in Barron County for 8 months. So many exciting things are happening and God is laying a careful, strong foundation for Northcross Community Church. There is still much to be done; leadership recruitment, training of leaders, facility search etc. etc. But last week, my youngest son Easton so beautifully reminded me of why we are here in the Rice Lake area planting a church for Jesus. We are in the FISHING BUSINESS. I was at the house busy doing a variety of tasks when Caleb (my oldest son) said; "Dad, Easton is down by the Damn and he has a big musky on the line. He needs you". So, I jumped in the truck and drove a few blocks over where Easton likes to fish at the damn where Rice Lake exits back into the Red Cedar River. Easton did not bring his cell phone that day fishing. Nor did he even bring bait with him. Simply a rod and reel with 50 pound test line. Hearing mom and dad talk about budget challenges was not going to stop him from finding a way to do what he loves to do the most, FISH. His recent strategy was to simply stand on the bridge and drop his treble hook down in the water and eyeball the blue gil / sunfish from above and snag them in the side and reel them in to use as bait (we just found out that is illegal in Wisconsin). So for his last time Easton did indeed get himself some bait and it wasn't long and he had snagged the biggest fish of his little 12 year old life, a whopping 47" Musky.
After fighting the musky for 15 minutes (and wondering how he is going to get this monster out of the water by himself) he managed to wear him out enough to leave his pole and trophy fish secured in some rocks to run up to the road to flag down anyone who could help. The passion, the drive, the whatever it takes mentally came shining through as Easton got the attention of two rather rough looking Rice Lake college boys who couldn't help but stop and help a desperate (jumping up and down getting in front of their truck) kid who was in trouble. As they asked "is someone drowning", Easton proceeded to tell them hurriedly, that he needed to use their phone to call his dad because he had a huge musky on the line. These two redneck Wisconsin boys were the perfect teammates for Easton to land his first big Musky. They immediately pulled their old ford truck off to the side of the road and ran down the bank with unbridled enthusiasm. They baby-sat the Musky while Easton stood at the road waiting for me to show up. It wasn't hard to spot him as I arrived and he led me to his new fishing buddies and the Fish. The net I brought from the garage was not big enough and when we got to the fish, his pals had already fetched him from the cold Wisconsin waters. It was 29 degrees and that did not stop one of his new rescue heroes from taking his coat off and then his shirt to wipe down the fish for the pictures. So there he stood, bare chested, smiling big with cigarette in mouth wiping down Easton's first big musky. He proceeded to say, "I have been fishing this ******* spot since I was 8 years old and have never caught a musky this big"! This was an emotional moment for me.
Since arriving in Wisconsin, Easton became a Follower of the Musky Fisherman. His mission has been clear. "CATCH A LOT OF FISH"! You Tube this and You Tube that! He has studied and learned by following, listening, watching and shadowing musky fishermen here at the damn in Rice Lake. He then learned just exactly where the musky hang out. He learned which bait would work. He learned when and where to find them. And then ultimately and obviously; Easton had learned how to fish for them.
On that cold spring morning, the Holy Spirit whispered to me how desperately he wants us to fish for men. Are we willing to jump in front of their path and do sometimes whatever it takes to catch that fish? How bad do we want to realize the vision? The great commission to go, to preach and to disciple. If we are going to be Fishers of Men, then we first must remember that WE ARE IN THE FOLLOWING BUSINESS. Secondly we must strategically BE IN THE FINDING BUSINESS.
Think about this. Why do you live where you live? Why do you work where you work? Why do you go to school where you go to school? Because, God wants to take where you are and who you are and place you in the lives of other people where you can follow Him and fish for them and catch some of them and bring them into His family. Your neighborhood, town, community…Your County is a lake full of fish. Your office is a lake full of fish. Your school is a lake full of fish. I know some of you think you could never fish. Some of you may not know how to fish. Some of you may feel like you are too shy to fish. Listen to what Jesus said, "Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men."
I have made the commitment that at NORTHCROSS we are going to train our team in a variety of ways, how to build relationships and in a gracious, easy fashion begin to fish for people. Fishing was not in season last week when Easton caught this fish, so he had to throw him back. One day fishing for men will be out of season. We are living in a window of time where the fish can still be caught. That, my friend, is what we are supposed to be doing. On Saturday morning, mothers day weekend, fishing season opened and Easton was down by the damn early at sunrise teaching a few friends how to fish. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to lead a friend named Scott to Jesus while sitting at Applebee's. NOTHING feels better than catching a fish! So just remember, if you will get into the following business, Jesus will make sure you GET INTO THE FISHING BUSINESS.