“On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” – Luke 5:1-11
On Monday, September 11, 2006, I recorded a dream in my journal. Here is how the dream unfolded. I was at the beach and I stood by the edge of the water with a fishing net. From where I stood, I could see the water teeming with fish. I cast the net into the water and something very interesting happened. As soon as the net hit the water it began to spread out under its own power. It appeared to be mechanized and was totally out of my control. As the net spread out over the water, I could see the fish collecting under it. When the net reached its limit, the edge of it went down to the ocean floor trapping all the fish. At that point, I began to pull the heavy net up onto the beach. It was full of fish. I sat down, began to pull out the messy fish, and count them.
As I was counting the fish, my son Smith joined me. He was astonished at the number of fish that had been caught. To my right I noticed a section of the net that I had not yet reached. Smith told me that he had counted 40 fish in that part of the net. A moment later, I looked way down the beach and I saw my older son, Rushman. Guess what he was doing. He had his own net that he was casting into the water. Then I woke up.
It’s interesting that I dreamed about casting a net into the water because that is essentially what I do through my ministry, Finding Purpose. Back in the spring of 1999, the Lord led me to leave my career of twenty years in the financial industry. For quite a while my desire to serve the Lord on a full-time basis had been growing. That spring, I decided to visit Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which was only thirty miles north of Raleigh. The moment I stepped onto the campus I knew I was where God wanted me. Thus, I left the world of finance behind and began to prepare for full-time ministry.
My time at Southeastern proved to be four of the best years of my life. It was a privilege to drive to that wonderful campus every morning and learn from incredible professors along with other students who were also preparing for ministry. When I graduated in May of 2003, I had no idea what I was going to do. I began to pray and ask the Lord to show me an open door. One morning I was praying specifically about my future in ministry. I had been reading through the book of Revelation. On this particular morning, I read the third chapter of Revelation. When I got to verse 8, it seemed to leap off the page. Revelation 3:8 states, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” I sensed the Lord saying that He had an open door waiting for me and that He would lead me to it. And just for added security, Jesus said, “No one can shut it!” During the summer of 2003, the Lord began to lead me to that open door. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what the Lord wanted me to do. I considered joining a market-place ministry that was part of Campus Crusade for Christ. Looking back, that would have been a good thing to do, but it was not the best thing. It was not the door the Lord was holding open for me.
One night that summer, I went to bed with all of these ideas in my mind of things that I would be free to do if I started my own ministry. In fact, Creecy, my wife, had been sensing all along that I should not join another ministry but rather start my own. She was willing to follow me wherever I went, but she sensed the Lord wanted me to do something new and different. The next morning I woke up very early, went into my study, and asked the Lord to speak to me from His Word. I prayed, “Lord, do you want me to join this ministry, or do you want me to do these things that I have been pondering in my mind—things that I would be free to do if I started my own ministry?” I picked up my Bible. Now understand that I don’t play Russian roulette with the Bible. I don’t blindly open it and point to the first verse I see. I simply begin to read where I left off the previous day. The day before, I had read 2 Samuel chapter 6. Thus, I began to read chapter 7. When I got to the third verse, again God seemed to lift the words off the page as He had done with Revelation 3:8. Amazed, I read, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you” (2 Samuel 7:3). In that moment, Finding Purpose was born—a ministry to men. I went into the bedroom and woke Creecy up, shouting, “Creecy! Wake up! Guess what? The Lord just told me to start my own ministry.” And so, for the last fifteen years, I have been casting the net here in Raleigh, trying to catch men for Christ.
Through this devotional series, we are going to see that this is the very reason Jesus came into the world—to catch men and women who will, in turn, become fishers of men. Two thousand years ago, Jesus sought fishermen, and He is still seeking fishermen today. Have you been caught? Would you like to be caught in the net of the greatest Fisher of men who ever walked the shores of this earth? If so, then stay tuned. Next week we will begin to examine Luke 5:1-11 and the three stages through which a man must advance in order to be a fisher of men. Stay tuned!