“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 in my journal a dream that I had the previous Saturday evening. Here is how the dream unfolded. I was at the beach standing at the edge of the water with a fishing net. From where I was standing 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. And then I began to pull the net up onto the beach. It was full of fish. I sat down and began pulling the messy fish out of the net and counting them.
As I was doing this, my son Smith came up to me. He couldn’t believe how many fish had been caught. Now to my right was a section of the net that I had not reached yet. Smith told me that he had counted 40 fish in that part of the net. And then I looked way down the beach. About a quarter of a mile down the beach I saw my older son Rushman. Guess what he was doing? He had his own net and he was casting it into the water. And then, I woke up.
It’s interesting that I dreamed about casting a net into the water because that it is essentially what I’m doing 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. My desire to serve the Lord full-time had been growing over the years. And so, during that particular 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 this is where God wanted me. And so, I left the world of finance behind and began to spend time preparing for full-time ministry.
My time at Southeastern proved to be four of the best years of my life. I got to drive up to that wonderful campus every morning for four years and spend time with incredible professors and other students who were 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. In fact, 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 was reading 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 telling me 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, during 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, my wife Creecy had been sensing all along that I should not join another ministry, but start my own ministry. 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 and 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 that I see. I simply begin to read where I left off from the day before. The day before I had completed reading 2 Samuel chapter 6. And so, on this particular morning, I began with chapter 7. When I go to the third verse, God seemed to lift it off the page just as He had done with Revelation 3:8. 2 Samuel 7:3 states, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.” In that moment, Finding Purpose was born—a ministry to men. I went into my bedroom and woke Creecy up and said, “Creecy! Wake up! Guess what? The Lord just told me to start my own ministry.” And so, for the last ten 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 this world—to catch men and women who will in turn become fishers of men. Two thousand years ago, Jesus sought fisherman 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 look at Luke 5:1-11 and see the three stages a man must advance through if he is to be a fisher of men. Amen!