A Filet For My Soul


My study break strategy is a bit more strategic this year.   Most years I’m anxious to dive into the newest read on the latest and greatest church world tactical plan.  My first books attacked would normally stoke the fires attached to my role as church leader.  I would then sneak in a few days towards the tail end of my getaway to read something simply for my soul.

This year, I’m starting off with a couple books geared more towards my soul.  (Church Planter by Darrin Patrick, and The Reason For God by Tim Keller)  In keeping with an ocean theme, I hope these first books become filets for my hungry soul.    I finished up Patrick’s book this afternoon, and it proved to be a great gauge of my heart towards who I am as a man, how I approach the message of Jesus, and the mission I’m called to.  Ultimately, the Man is Jesus, the Message is Jesus, and the Mission is Jesus.  There’s nothing better than Jesus-centric stuff to be good food for my soul.

Towards the very end of Patirck’s book, thoughts were turned towards Jesus’ church.  This was a good thing, for I realized again how you can focus on the Church without regard to your soul, and be found ineffective.  You can also focus first on your soul being in the care of Jesus, and be even more prepared to lead His Church.  My strategy… God’s strategy… is working.

And then there’s this additional thought of fish and fishing.  Some are content for some breaded, land-locked Mrs. Paul’s on their plate.  Others will not touch a filet without it being fresh and recently pulled from the sea.  My son, Michael, will stick a small, hand held net in shallow waters to try and catch a fish.  When one brushes his feet, he jumps.  He was sure he saw a Tiger Shark in his ankle deep attempts.    Another more serious fisherman standing next to Michael cast a line into deeper waters, but remained on the shore with a spattering of pitifully small fish in a bucket.  A boat just 300 yards off the beach seems to take the fishing thing still further.  And late this afternoon, I saw a deep-sea boat headed out to waters where the safety of land becomes alien, but the possibilities are of whale-sized proportion.

I wondered why most prefer small nets or simple lines cast from the shore.  Was it a safety thing?  If you really want to fish, isn’t there some kind of calling that propels you to catch more and bigger fish in even deeper waters?

My calling is sure, and for that affirmation I’m moved and grateful.  I’m a teacher, leader, and vision caster.  That’s not meant to sound as arrogant as some may read.  It’s just  how God wired and placed me within His Bride, the Church.

Often it feels like I’m fishing too close to shore.  A small-minded focus on attendance and church success can be so consuming.  The message I carry of Jesus’ payment of our sin and cleansing from the stain of sin, however, is not a small thing.  The mission of compassion, care, and a church that reproduces unleashes forces more powerful than can be contained in any one church bucket.

So why do I insist on remaining safe on the shore with limited ability to catch anything but a spiritual sunburn?  It would seem with increased faith and years of walking with Jesus, there are deeper waters containing more risk and God’s glory than ever before.  My 42 year-old faith demands, it seems, greater action.  Not for salvation or approval, but because I need to live up to — not shrink back from — what God has done, who Jesus is, and what I’ve already attained.

Today has been good to renew my heart and increase my vision… exactly because of the man, message, and mission of Jesus.  My thinking has been too small.  I closed my day of study, prayer, and worship by owning, confessing, and repenting through Patrick’s concluding words:  “I begged God to renew my heart and mind with a vision for our city that was more like Christ’s.”

Ironically, I’m hungry for some fish at dinner tonight.  Will it be Mrs. Paul’s or something fresh off the pier and from the mysterious depths?  My preference would be a fresh filet for body and soul.

(ipod this morning was ringing of Gungor and Jesus Culture.  my Bible study is in James.  i rocked the ear buds with Adele later… i love “Rumor Has It”)

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