The Birdcage

 

A man was on the side of the road with a large birdcage. A boy noticed that the cage was full of birds of many kinds. "Where did you get those birds?" he asked.

"Oh, all over the place," the man replied. "I lure them with crumbs, pretend I'm their friend then when they are close, I net them and shove them into my cage."

"And what are you going to do with them now?"

The man grinned, "I'm going to prod them with sticks, and get them really mad so they fight and kill each other. Those that survive, I will kill. None will escape."

The boy looked steadily at the man. What made him do such things? He looked into the cruel, hard eyes. Then he looked at the birds, defenceless, without hope.

"Can I buy those birds?" the boy asked.

The man hid a smile, aware that he could be on to a good thing if he played his cards right. "Well," he said hesitantly, "The cage is pretty expensive, and I spent a lot of time collecting these birds, I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll let you have the lot, birds, cage and all for ten pounds and that jacket you're wearing."

The boy paused, ten pounds was all he had, and the jacket was new and very special, in fact it was his prized possession. Slowly, he took out the ten pounds and handed it over, then even more slowly he took off his jacket, gave it one last look then handed that over too.

And then (well, you've guessed it) he opened the door and let the birds go free.

The Enemy of the world, Satan, was on the side of life's road with a very large cage. The man coming towards him noticed that it was crammed full of people of every kind, young, old, from every race and nation. "Where did you get these people?" the man asked.

"Oh, from all over the world," Satan replied. "I lure them with drink, drugs, lust, lies, anger, hate, love of money and all manner of things. I pretend I'm their friend, out to give them a good time, then when I've hooked them, into the cage they go."

"And what are you going to do with them now?" asked the man.

Satan grinned. "I'm going to prod them, provoke them, get them to hate and destroy each other; I'll stir up racial hatred, defiance of law and order; I'll make people bored, lonely, dissatisfied, confused and restless. It's easy. People will always listen to what I offer them and (what's better) blame God for the outcome!"

"And then what?" the man asked.

"Those who do not destroy themselves, I will destroy. None will escape me."

The man stepped forward. "Can I buy these people from you?" he asked.

Satan snarled, "Yes, but it will cost you your life."

So Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid for your release, your freedom from Satan's trap, with His own life, on the cross at Calvary. The door is open, and anyone, whom Satan has deceived and caged, can be set free.

adapted from a leaflet from Shiloh Church, Landes du Marche

 

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Isn't It Funny

Funny how a $20.00 bill looks so big when you take it to church, but so small when you take it to the mall.

Funny how big an hour serving God looks and how small 60 minutes are when spent watching television, playing sports, sleeping or taking a lunch break.

Funny how long a couple of hours spent at church are but how short they are when watching a good movie.

Funny how we get thrilled when a football game goes into overtime, but we complain when a sermon is longer than the regular time.

Funny how laborious it is to read a chapter in the Bible and how easy it is to read 200-300 pages of a best selling novel.

Funny how we believe what newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.

Funny how people scramble to get a front seat at a concert, but scramble to get a back seat at the church service.

Funny how we cannot fit a gospel meeting into our schedule with our yearly planner but we can schedule for other events at a moment's notice.

Funny how we look forward to that big date on Friday night, but complain about getting up for church on Sunday morning.

Funny how we are rarely late to work, but always late to church.

Funny how we call God our Father and Jesus our brother, but find it hard to introduce them to our family.

Funny how small our sins seem, but how big their sins are.

Funny how we demand justice for others, but expect mercy from God.

Funny how much difficulty some have learning the gospel well enough to tell others, but how simple it is to understand and explain the latest gossip about someone else.

Funny how we can't think of anything to say when we pray, but don't have any difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

Funny how we are so quick to take directions from a total stranger when we are lost, but are hesitant to take God's direction for our lives.

Funny how so many church goers sing "Standing on the promises" but all they do is sit on the premises.

Funny how people want God to answer their prayers, but refuse to listen to His counsel.

Funny how we sing about heaven, but live only for today.

Funny how people think they are going to Heaven but don't think there is a Hell.

Funny how it is okay to blame God for evil and suffering in the world, but it is not necessary to thank Him for what is good and pleasant.

Funny how when something goes wrong, we cry, "Lord, why me?" but when something goes right, we think, "Hey, it must be me!"

Or wait...maybe all this isn't so "funny" after all.

- Contributed by LMMyers

 

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The Life Saving Station

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now, the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired life-boat crews to do this work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in this club's decoration, and there was a symbolic life-boat in the room where the club initiations were held. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

 

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Light Of The Storage Closet

From Max Lucado's Book "God Came Near - Chronicles Of The Christ" 1987

A few nights ago a peculiar thing happened. An electrical storm caused a blackout in our neighbourhood. When the lights went out, I felt my way through the darkness into the storage closet where we keep the candles for nights like this. Through the glow of a lit match I looked up on the shelf where the candles were stored. There they were, already positioned in their stands, melted to various degrees by previous missions. I took my match and lit four of them.

How they illuminated the storage room! What had been a veil of blackness suddenly radiated with soft, golden light! I could see the freezer I had just bumped with my knee. And I could see my tools that needed to be straightened.

"How great it is to have light!" I said out loud, and then spoke to the candles. "If you do such a good job here in the storage closet, just wait till I get you out of where you're really needed! I'll put one of you on my table so we can eat. I'll put one of you on my desk so I can read. I'll give one of you to Denalyn so she can cross- stitch. And I'll set you", I took down the largest one, " in the living room where you can light up the whole area," (I felt a bit foolish talking to candles - but what do you do when the lights go out?)

I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice, " Now, hold it right there."

I stopped. Somebody's in here! I thought. then I relaxed. It's just Denalyn, teasing me for talking to the candles.

"OK, honey, cut the kidding," I said in the semi-darkness. No answer. Hmmm; maybe it was the wind. I took another step. "Hold it, I said!" There was that voice again. My hands began to sweat.

"Who said that?"

"I did." The voice was near my hand.

"Who are you? What are you?"

"I'm a candle." I looked at the candle I was holding. It was burning a strong, golden flame. It was red and sat on a heavy wooden candle holder that had a firm handle.

I looked around once more to see if the voice could be coming from another source. "There's no one here but you, me and the rest of the candles," the voice informed me.

I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. You won't believe what I saw. There was a tiny face in the wax. (I told you you wouldn't believe me.) Not just a wax face that someone had carved, but a moving, functioning, fleshlike face full of expression and life.

"Don't take me out of here!"

"What?"

"I said; don't take me out of this room."

"What do you mean? I have to take you out. You're a candle. Your job is to give light. It's dark out there. People are stubbing their toes and walking into walls. You have to come out and light up the place!"

"But you can't take me out. I'm not ready; the candle explained with pleading eyes. "I need more preparation."

I couldn't believe my ears. "More preparation?"

"Yeah, I've decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won't go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You'd be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be. So I'm doing some studying. I just finished a book on wind resistance. I'm in the middle of a great series of tapes on wick build-up and conservation - I'm reading the new best seller on flame display. Have you heard of it?

"No," I answered.

"You might like it. It's called Waxing Eloquently".

"That really sounds inter--" I caught myself. What am I doing? I'm in here conversing with a candle while my wife and daughters are out there in the darkness!

"All right then," I said. "You're not the only candle on the shelf. I'll blow you out and take the others!"

But just as I got my cheeks full of air, I heard other voices. "We're not going either!"

It was a conspiracy. I turned around and looked at the three other candles; each with flames dancing above a miniature face.

I was beyond feeling awkward about talking to candles. I was getting miffed.

"You are candles and your job is to light dark places!"

"Well, that may be what you think," said the candle on the far left - a long thin fellow with a goatee and British accent. "You may think we have to go, but I'm busy."

"Busy?"

"Yes, I'm meditating."

"What? A candle that meditates?"

"Yes. I'm meditating on the importance of light. It's really enlightening."

I decided to reason with them. "Listen, I appreciate what you guys are doing. I'm all for meditation time. And everyone needs to study and research; but for goodness' sake, you guys have been here for weeks! Haven't you had enough time to get your wick on straight?"

"And you other two," I asked, "are you going to stay in here as well?"

A short, fat, purple candle with plump cheeks that reminded me of Santa Claus spoke up. "I'm waiting to get my life together. I'm not stable enough. I lose my temper easily. I guess you could say that I'm a hothead."

The last candle had a female voice, very pleasant to the ear. "I'd like to help," she explained,"but lighting the darkness is not my gift."

All this was sounding too familiar. "Not your gift?" What do you mean?"

"Well, I'm a singer. I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly." Without asking my permission, she began a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." (I have to admit, she had a good voice.)

The other three joined in, filling the storage room with singing. "Hey, I shouted above the music, "I don't mind if you sing while you work! In fact, we could use a little music out there!"

They didn't hear me. They were singing too loudly. I yelled louder. "Come on, you guys. There's plenty of time for this later. We've got a crisis on our hands."

They wouldn't stop. I put the big candle on the shelf and took a step back and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet. I had all I could take. One by one I blew them out. They kept singing to the end. The last one to flicker was the female. I snuffed her out right in the "puff" part of "Won't let Satan puff me out."

I stuck my hands in my pockets and walked back out into the darkness. I bumped my knee on the same freezer. Then I bumped into my wife.

"Where are the candles?" she asked.

"They don't....they won't work. Where did you buy those candles anyway?"

"Oh, they're church candles. Remember the church that closed down across the town? I bought them there."

I understood.

 

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When I Say..."I am a Christian"

When I say..."I am a Christian," I'm not shouting "I am saved," I'm whispering "I get lost!" "That is why I chose this way."

When I say..."I am a Christian," I don't speak of this with pride, I'm confessing that I stumble and need someone to be my guide.

When I say..."I am a Christian," I'm not trying to be strong, I'm professing that I'm weak and pray for strength to carry on.

When I say..."I am a Christian" I'm not bragging of success, I'm admitting I have failed and cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say..."I am a Christian," I'm not claiming to be perfect, my flaws are too visible but God believes I'm worth it.

When I say..."I am a Christian," I still feel the sting of pain, I have my share of heartaches which is why I seek His name.

When I say..."I am a Christian," I do not wish to judge, I have no authority, I only know I'm loved.

By: Carol Wimmer 1988

 

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Know Your Enemy

 

How Satan operates

To overcome the influence of Satan in our lives and the world, we need to fully understand how he operates and why he is so hell bent on influencing the world with evil intent.

The key to winning any battle, regardless of whether it is on sports field, on the battlefield in natural warfare, or in spiritual warfare, is to study your enemy, to get to know their tactics, study their moves, by looking for patterns in the way they attack and defend, and try to get inside their heads to understand the way they think. We do this to better understand the enemy's moves so that we can go into battle well prepared, properly protected with suitable body armour, and armed with superior weapons of warfare for the battle ahead.  

Before taking their teams out onto the field of play in the sports arena, coaches prepare their teams to do battle in the game ahead, coaching staff and players will watch and study video footage of opposition teams for days, weeks or even months to learn the tactics, strengths and weaknesses of the opposing team.  

Before going to war, senior military officers, strategists and intelligence, study their enemy to learn their tactics and gather crucial intelligence (Intel) to ensure their fighting forces are suitably prepared to enter warfare, do battle and win the war.

Just as sports teams and armed forces need to study their enemy to defeat them, so also we need to study our enemy the devil, to defeat him as he daily sets snares and traps to catch us in sin.  Satan's attacks are usually subtle and sneaky, just as he suckered Eve into talking and eating that fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil back in the Garden of Eden.  He is the master of subtlety, trickery and cunning when it comes to coaxing us into sin, so we need to be fully armed and informed about the way he operates.  To understand your enemy puts you in a position to defeat him.  Not knowing your enemy and how he operates, puts you in right the path of the tank, to be squashed by the enemy like a bug from lack of defence.   

So! How does Satan lure us into sin, and why does he do it?               

Satan - hater of God:

The reason Satan is so intent on destroying mankind is; because we were made by God, for relationship with God, to love God, to be loved by God and to worship God.  Satan knows that Godís greatest creation Ďmankindí is also His greatest love.  God loves us with a love that is so deep, it is beyond our understanding, and Satan hates God with such intensity, he knows the best way to hurt God is to hurt us. 

Satanís mission is to steal, kill and destory mankind, and he will try every devious and subtle trick in the book to bring us down. He wrote the book on dirty tricks, lies, murder and every form of evil known to man.  He is the author and inventor of every conceivable kind of perversion and depravity. 

Defeating the enemy: 

The good news is:  We donít need to live in fear of Satan or of what he can do, because Satan is no match for our ALMIGHTY GOD and Heavenly Father; who looks after us and protects every minute of every day, and gives His holy angels charge over us.

Satan cannot influence us unless we allow him to.  Accordingly, we need to know how and why he operates so that being armed with this knowledge we can stand against and defeat all of his suggestions, tricks and devices.

The scriptures clearly demonstrate that we are well able to stand against the wiles of this enemy, if we embrace and use the many weapons and defences provided for us in the Whole Armour of God.  (See Whole Armour of God pages)    

Satan the tempter:

Satan is the master of suggestion and temptation, of using our weaknesses against us, and enticing the unwary into his snares of sin and pleasure. 

Satan the Fisherman:

We could liken Satan to an evil fisher of men.  This is the way I see, visualise and understand him.

As a recreational fisherman with a lifetime of experience in most forms of fishing, and manufacturing fishing lure for ten years until in our own business until 1997, I understand the principles of fishing, how to catch fish, and how the principles of fishing relate to and mirror the way Satan operates.

Understanding the principles of fishing: 

  • The natural fishing environment and habitat.
  • Varieties of fish.
  • Where and when the various fish species are most likely to be.
  • How to fish.
  • The equipment we need for every fishing situation.
  • Preparing the fishing equipment for the fight ahead, to ensure the fish is successfully landed once it is hooked.
  • How to choose the best baits for the prey we are targeting.
  • The best ways to present baits to ensure the prey takes them.
  • How to entice the prey to take the bait, hook, artificial bait or lure.
  • How to play the fish once it is hooked.
  • The fishís fight for life.
  • The fishermanís fight for dinner.
  • Busting off / breaking free, or
  • Landing the fish.
  • How to fillet the fish and prepare it for cooking.
  • How to cook and serve the fish depending on the dish it is intended for.
  • Which wine it should be served with.

Understanding the fishing environment and its influences: 

  • The fishís natural home:  The ocean, lake or river (where fish live).
  • Conditions in the fishís habitat including water temperature, currents and food. 
  • Weather Conditions.
  • Tidal conditions.
  • Light conditions.
  • The phase of the moon. 

Choices of bait:  Live baits, dead baits and lures: 

Live bait:  In fishing terms, a live-bait is generally a small to medium sized bait fish that has been caught and placed in a live bait tank to keep it alive for future use.  Live baits are generally used to bait and hook ocean going pelagic fish, which swallow bait fish whole.  When the angler arrives at a fishing ground that is most likely to deliver the fish being targeted, he will take the live bait, put a suitable hook through its back just under the dorsal fin, then place the live bait in the water and allow it to swim around while being held securely by the hook.  When the targeted fish sees the live bait swimming and dangling deliciously in front of them, they get excited by the prospect of a free meal and swallow the live bait whole, thus becoming securely hooked with the hook firmly embedded in their mouth or gut. 

In human terms, a live-bait being used by Satan might be a person dressed or acting in a way that excites and tempts others into impure thoughts that can lead to impure actions.  A live bait can also be a person caught by the hooks of flirtation to be dangled in front of others in any places like the office or at social occasions. If we allow ourselves to respond in kind to this type of temptation by maintaining eye contact with the bait and flirting back, it can lead to acts of betrayal and disloyalty to our spouse in the case of married men and women. 

Live bait are the primary baits used in the pornography industry, which dangles its live bait victims in front of internet navigators or in magazines to hook and ensnare others into this addictive and destructive practice.  These Human live baits are often hooked and dangled in front of the intended victims of pornography by the deadly hooks of drug addiction, hooks of lust for easy money, and hooks of financial desperation and despair, which can lead to hooks of self loathing and depression in the people being used as bait.  The end result is exactly the same as in ocean fishing.  The live bait and the target both end up as dead victims of the skilled angler.  One ends up in the belly of the target fish, and the target ends up in the belly of the angler. 

It is important to understand these principles and the way Satan operates, to help us guard our responses and actions.  If we are not careful, we can allow ourselves to become live baits to be manipulated and used by the enemy to provoke others into swallowing hooks of anger, frustration, violence, envy, you name it.  This can happen when we fail to successfully use the Armour of God to fend off attacks of the enemy and allow our actions or reactions to bait others into sin.  This can occur when our actions or responses cause other people to swallow hooks of frustration, indignation and anger, that can lead them into negative responses and escalating levels of conflict. 

We have two clear choices in every situation that has the potential to make us angry or offend us. 

1:  We can react badly; by making rude comments or gestures to the person or persons causing us indignation, which will lead to further conflict, bad feelings, and negative reactions.  

2:  We can take a deep breath, realise we are being baited, make a decision not to allow ourselves to take the bait and become part of the enemyís chain of baits and hooks, but instead, we can choose to respond with all humility in a kind, understanding and gracious way. 

Examples: When we are served the wrong meal or poorly prepared food at a restaurant, or, we receive poor service from a waitress or waiter, or, we are greeted at a supermarket checkout or at the bank by a less than friendly staff member, or, when someone behaves in a way that offends us when we are driving on the road. 

Our reaction can be to flare up, get rude, make a scene, tell the person concerned what we think of them and behave in a way that shames us. If we allow ourselves to be baited into reacting in this way, our actions will present us as live bait that will cause the person we have confronted to react negatively in return, and so the situation can escalate and get ugly. Or; 

We can take a breath, smile, give a friendly wave or make a friendly comment and be gracious and kind, just as Jesus would do in the same situation. 

A kind word to a person who treats us in a way we feel is unacceptable or impolite, can make a world of difference in situations and to the person we may be offended by.  Our responses can cause conflict and hurt, or they can change lives for the better. 

Who knows what kind of day the person we are offended by may have had that has made them less than happy with the world.  Who knows what pain that person may be suffering because of some problem at home, at work, or in a relationship. And who knows what effect we might have in a situation where instead of heaping more pain on that person by saying something harsh and unkind to them which we may feel they deserve, we choose to speak softly to them and say; Hey, itís OK, it doesnít matter, and speak a kind word instead. And, who knows how these kind words and responses might bring some light and hope into that personís situation, and give us an opportunity to speak words of encouragement and life into their lives that might lead them to the Saviour?    

We need to watch for, recognise and avoid live baits at all costs.  To know and understand, that the impulse to eat and consume live baits which may be so tantalisingly and deliciously dangled in front of our eyes to tempt us, or to make us act and speak ungraciously, can end up hurting us and others if we allow ourselves to swallow them.                  

Dead bait:  In fishing terms,dead bait is a slice or piece of dead fish that is placed on a fish hook.  The skilled fisherman will carefully sew his or her chosen hook into a succulent piece of dead bait-fish in such a way, as to hide the hook from view.  When the hook is successfully concealed within the bait, all the intended victim sees is a juicy piece of meat just begging to be eaten.  The target of the anglers attention is completely unaware that hidden underneath this apparent delicacy, is a razor sharp point and barb having lethal intentions. 

In human terms, dead baits can be things, actions or attitudes that take us away from God or lead us into sin.  Some examples of dead baits are money, or more correctly the love of money. Dead Baits can be things that distract us from God like the love or lust for toys, the trappings of life, pride, selfish ambitions that lead us to focus entirely on what we want and on our own success, lust for fame and/or notoriety, lust or covetousness for material things owned by others that might tempt and cause us to steal, cheat and lie to get what we want, and/or cause us to lie to get us out of trouble.  Dead baits can lead us into addictions of gambling and the lust for easy money, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, eating disorders, tobacco addiction, and other behaviours that damage our bodies, minds and spirits. 

Lures or artificial baits:  In fishing terms, a lure or artificial bait is a man made bait. It is generally shaped and coloured to look like and impersonate a real bait-fish, and is designed to make it swim like a real, and/or distressed fish when being trolled, jigged, or cast and retrieved through the water. 

The action of the lure is designed to:

1:  Excite the predator fish by stirring its natural aggression in fish that are territorial. 

2:  Attract a hungry fish to strike the lure because it wants a free meal.

The territorial fish will strike a lure just because the lure is encroaching on its territory or because the fish is spawning or about to spawn and sees the lure as a threat to its eggs.

In human terms, the lures and artificial baits used by Satan to lure us away from God, are presented to us to make them look perfectly safe and natural.  They can appear like genuine articles of food to the unwary and hungry soul, but beneath the frills and skirts of the lure there are deadly hooks ready to ensnare us. 

Some examples of lures and artificial baits are:  People in our lives that may look and sound like they are walking close to God, but in reality they may not be. They may be saying some of the right things, but are also doing or saying things that are not consistent with Godís word and principles.  We need to love and pray for such people, but be careful not to associate too closely with them socially or in business so that they donít have the opportunity to negatively influence us in a way that might lead us to fall also. 

Other examples of artificial baits are false doctrines or religions that at first glance may sound and feel like they are of God, but can lead us down a wrong path and into error.  These lures can manifest themselves as religious cults, generally driven by people who have been lead astray by deceiving spirits and/or pride.  It is important to test everything that presents itself to us as being from God, with the Word of God, and then reject it if it is not consistent with Godís Word. 

Above we have illustrated the principles of fishing, how to understand the natural fishing environment, the components of the fishing environment, the players involved, and the tools and devices the fisherman uses to bait, lure, catch and consume his prey. 

The Good Fisherman: 

Jesus; The Good Shepherd, also understood the principles of fishing, and could also be called Jesus the Good Fisherman.  We read in Mark 1:16-17 where Jesus said to Simon and his brother Andrew as He was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, 17"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."  When Jesus instructed His disciples to become fishers of men, He meant fishing for men using the good net of the gospel of hope and eternal life in Jesus Christ.  It is no surprise to me that Jesus chose a great number of fishermen as His disciples to catch and reach the world for the kingdom of God.  Jesus The Good Fisherman; came into the world to catch and save mankind from the clutches and hooks of Satan, to free us from the hooks of sin, and release us into eternal life in Godís kingdom.  In fishing terms we call this Catch and Release.  

The battle for mankind: 

Using fishing as the perfect analogy to demonstrate the commonality of principles used in fishing; and the continual spiritual battle taking place between God and Satan for the souls of men and women; here below is another very interesting correlation. 

When God created mankind, we were created for relationship with Him as Father and children and were tied to God in the perfect bonds of unity and love.  Man at this time was perfect in every way, and was the perfect reflection of God who made us in His image.  At that time mankind had unlimited access to God because they had not yet been corrupted by sin. When Satan convinced man to sin by eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, our connection and lifeline to God was broken and severed, because God is Holy and He cannot look upon or countenance sin.  

From that time onwards mankind was separated from God by a gulf of sin, and once the hooks of sin were embedded into mankind, things got worse and worse and the world quickly spiralled out of control as we got deeper into sin.  This is because man had now taken on the nature of the evil one who had corrupted us.  

From the time of the fall of man, God the Father set about reconnecting the lifeline between Himself and mankind, to reconcile us back to full relationship Him.  For the next four thousand years or so, mankind in obedience to God, attempted to tie themselves back to God through the sacrificing of goats, bulls, lambs and other animals to atone for their sins.  The shedding of blood as a covering for our sins was necessary during those years, until God implemented His master plan to reconcile mankind back to Himself.  For man to be washed clean from sin, and once again able to stand before God, there had to be a perfect sacrifice that was worthy to wash us free from the stain and contamination of sin.  Only one sacrifice would ever be suitable and worthy for this, that being the sacrifice and shedding of the blood of the only begotten Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Finally some two thousand years ago, God sent His only Son to earth in the form of a man, but unlike the rest of mankind who are contaminated by sin at conception because we inherit our blood genes from our fathers, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit as God placed His own DNA into the seed of the virgin Mary, who was the blessed and chosen vessel of God to bear and carry the Son of God into the world as a man.  While Jesus, Godís Son, was now housed in an earthy human body, he was absolutely [sinless] being uncontaminated by sin because His Father is God.  Thus, [Jesus], became the second Adam, Ďthe second sinless man to enter the worldí.

Until a suitable sacrifice was made for mankind that was holy and worthy to cleanse man from sin, we were still contaminated by sin and separated from God because as we know, God cannot look upon or countenance sin. 

When our Saviour went to the cross of Calvary to take upon himself the sins of the world and the penalty and punishment for our sin, His life blood which He freely shed for us, completely cleanses us from all sin when we ask the Father to forgive us in Jesus name and wash us clean in the precious blood of His son.  

At that moment in time, when Jesus was beaten and killed by mankind as a complete and final sacrifice for our sins, His blood became the knot or bond that tied us back to full relationship with our Father and Creator.  

This is so perfectly demonstrated in that beautiful Hymn, ĎNothing but the Blood of Jesusí.

 

What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

     Oh, precious is the flow; that makes me white as snow.

     No other fount I know; nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon this I see, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my cleansing this my plea, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Naught of good that I have done, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus. 

Why this truth is so closely related to one important aspect of fishing is; when we are fishing and our line breaks, the broken line needs to be replaced or repaired so that it can continue to reach the seabed and be long enough to catch and play a fish. In the world of fishing there is only one knot that is suitable for joining new line to old line, that will be strong enough to withstand the stresses put on the line during fishing.  A compact knot having super strength is required for this job, and no other will do. A knot that is virtually as strong as the line itself.  There is only one knot with these characteristics, and it is no surprise that this knot is called, ĎThe Blood Knotí.                                      

In life, there is no stronger human tie, than the ties or bonds of blood. We even have a saying for it; ĎBlood is thicker than waterí, meaning, if it comes to a choice between siding with someone who is not a blood relative and someone who is, the blood relative will almost always get first consideration.  Blood is the knot that binds families and people together.  

So it is also with the shed blood of Christ.  His blood alone is the knot that ties us back to our Heavenly Father and creator because, absolutely ĎNOTHINGí else in heaven or earth is suitable or worthy to cleanse us from sin and reconnect mankind back to God the Father. 

Just as in fishing where the Blood Knot is the only knot suitable for reconciling and repairing the line, so that once again it can reach the seabed and the food source; So also the Blood of Christ is the knot that binds and restores us back to our creator God, who is the true source of life and power for mankind. 

What can tie me back to God?  Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!

What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!     

What can cleanse me free from sin?  Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! 

Only the Blood of Jesus can make us completely clean, whiter than snow and worthy to stand before the Father.  Truly the Blood of Jesus is the tie that binds, and nothing else will do. 

The really interesting thing about Jesus, ĎThe Good Fisher of Mení is; that unlike Satan who uses lines of lies to attach his hooks of evil intent to, the fishing line that Jesus uses to catch and save mankind from sin is; the line of self sacrifice and pure love which has no hooks.

 The evil fisherman: 

When Satan fishes, for mankind his goal is to see us gutted, filet-ed, sliced, diced and in his frying pan.  He is a master at fishing, and his intended catch is the souls of men and women.  There is no limit to how far he will go to try and lead us astray and destroy us.  He will use every conceivable hook and bait to entice us into sin to see if his baits taste as good as they look. 

BUT!  No matter how juicy and succulent his baits might seem; underneath are hidden razor sharp hooks having painful and deadly barbs. Just like a fish in the natural world, when we bite into Satanís tempting baits and lures we experience momentary pleasure, followed by guilt, remorse, self -loathing, suffering, fear and panic, as we fight to get free from Satanís hooks and the line of sin.  We need to be ever vigilant and careful of his ways because if we continue to fall for the same hooks, it can lead us into to habitual sin and we can ultimately end up in Satanís frying pan.  

The bigger the fish, the larger and more tempting the baits or lures he will use to entice us with, so no one is immune to his lures, hooks and baits if we donít constantly guard and protect ourselves.  Once again, this is where the Whole Armour of God comes into play, because Satanís hooks and barbs cannot penetrate the armour of the person who knows how to use it, and prayerfully wears it every day. 

Satan will use every device imaginable to try and keep us hooked and secured in sin.  Just as the natural fisherman has a huge array of equipment and hooks at his disposal to suit every fishing situation, Satan also has a huge variety of hooks, baits and lures at his disposal as illustrated below: 

Satanís Hooks: 

Understanding the various kinds of hooks and bait Satan uses.  He baits us with temptation, money, material things, lusts of the flesh, life circumstances, the actions of others, you name it.  In turn, if we allow ourselves to react and take his bait, our actions and reactions often become the baits he uses for others to react to, swallow and become hooked by.  (See some examples below). 

  • Stupidity hooks.  Where Satan baits us into doing dumb or inconsiderate things that may cause others to swallow Angry Hooks.  Example; Careless driving causing offense to other drivers.  This can makes them angry and bait them to swear, give impolite gestures, and can even result in acts of road rage and violence.  
  • Anger Hooks.  Things that make us flare up, respond in anger and say or do things that hurt others.  These negative reactions from us present us as live baits to others, that can bait them into reacting angrily in return, thus perpetuating the cycle of anger that can escalate out of control.  
  • Selfish Hooks.  Things that tempt us to act selfishly, that are likely to bait and hook others into feelings of anger and negative responses.

Examples:  Wanting to be first at any cost, and forgetting our manners such as grabbing the biggest or best, and putting ourselves above the needs of others.  Always wanting to be first in the food queue, bank or airport queues, where we may give in to the temptation to push in and queue jump.  Another good example is vehicle drivers who queue jump and push in front of others in traffic, or; change lanes dangerously and weave in and out of lanes of traffic to get somewhere two minutes faster. This behaviour baits and causes other road users to eat anger and resentment hooks that can result in the offended party becoming angry, venting, cussing and giving rude gestures.  It can also lead to the baited and offended driver serving the offender with a different kind of hook.  A right hook; also known as a knuckle sandwich. 

  • Mean Hooks.  The mean hook can manifest in many ways and is a first cousin of the selfish hook and the greedy hook.  It is the hook that baits and encourages us to be mean in spirit, mean with our money, possessions, our time, and in our generosity to man and God.  The mean hook causes our pockets to grow longer and our arms to grow shorter, so that we can never reach the money and resources in our pockets that might bless others.  Sadly, many among us that fall foul of this hook may never discover the pure joy that we experience when we give to others, and put their needs ahead of ourselves and our own selfish interests. 

Manifestation of the mean hook in our lives may also be revealed in our attitude toward giving to God, who owns everything and blesses us with his provision.  Until we learn to honour God with our first fruits and tithes, we will never fully experience Godís Blessing and provision in our lives.  This concept is best revealed in Godís word in Malachi 3:10   10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 

Our hearts are usually controlled by the things in our lives that are most the precious to us, so if our money, wealth and possessions are the most important things in our lives, it will be revealed in our attitude toward God and those in need around us.  A tight fisted person who ignores the genuine needs of people when they are able to help, misses out on the joy that comes from blessing others.  This is something we can only begin to understand as we start to practice generosity to God and our fellow man.  We will also fail to receive the full blessings of Godís provision in our lives, until we begin to bring the first fruits of our labour and income to the storehouse of God and honour Him with our tithes, with a willing and generous heart.  It was not until we personally discover this concept and put it into action that we will truly open our lives to the miraculous provision of God 

God loves a generous heart: When we learn to honour God with our obedience, our finances and put Him ahead of our own interests and priorities, He is faithful to honour us with his blessings of provision in our lives.  Simply put, we cannot out-give God.  He doesnít need our money; He only wants our hearts, our love and our obedience by putting Him first in our lives.  When we do that and trust in God, He is faithful to honour us and provide all of our needs.  His word says so, and God cannot lie.  Try it! Believe it! And put Him to the test.  He will never let us down; He is Jehovah Jireh, God Who Provides. 

God has called us to be generous givers, generous in heart and in spirit.  His word confirms it again and again.  10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.  2 Corinthians 9:10-12 .   

24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  Proverbs 11:24 

6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  2 Corinthians 9:6 

Measured against eternity our lives are a vapour.  They are so very short, as is our grip on the things we possess.  We come into the world naked and with nothing, then soon enough leave this world with no more than a cheap suit and a wooden overcoat.   Until someone invents a luggage rack for a hearse, we can take absolutely nothing with us when we go, but; we can store up treasure in heaven by our actions and generosity toward our fellow man and God with our time and wealth while we are here. 

When we see the joy that our giving brings to those in need, their joy spills over into our lives and does something truly wonderful inside us.  This is Godís love and provision at work. 

If we become reservoirs for wealth and Godís blessings without an outlet, our lives will become stagnant and will not support life for ourselves or others.  This is true in the natural world, where water provides life to the world and to ďALLĒ forms of life.  If a lake or reservoir has no outlets or rivers, it stagnates, becomes dead, and over time it will cease to support life.  The Dead Sea is a perfect example of this.  It has no natural outlet so over time, the water of the Dead Sea has absorbed the salt, minerals and chemicals in the lake bed and has become so toxic, it cannot support life.  A healthy lake that supports life, is a lake with outlets to feed and water the country around it and in doing so, it releases the minerals it picks up as it flows outward to irrigate the country around it.  The out-flowing rivers of the lake carry the water of life to support fish, plant life, animals, humans and all living things downstream of the lake.   

How does God provide for our needs? Always through other people!  Just like a river, He has created us to be the arms and tributaries of His provision into the lives of those around us.  Those who depend on us, those we do business with, and those we are led to give to under Godís direction.  How do we know when to give to others?  Sometimes by the prompting and urging of the Holy Spirit as He directs us, and sometimes by just having our eyes, ears and hearts open to recognise those in need, combined with the ability to do something about meeting those needs.  

In Godís economy, Godís is the lake of life and the source of all our provision.   We who are His children are the rivers of His blessing and like all rivers, we are meant to be open-ended.  A river is not a river unless it is open ended and channels the blessing of water downstream.   We are not designed to stop up the outflow of Godís blessing in our lives and keep it all for ourselves, but to be channels for Godís blessing.  Each one of us is a small part of Godís river of provision, designed and destined to absorb and store what we need for our lives, and channel the excess of Godís blessing on to others further downstream. Just as those members of the river above us have channelled blessings into our lives and we feed from that provision, we are designed to channel Godís provision on to those downstream of us.  

When God blesses us with finances and other good things in our lives, it can be for our own blessing, but sometimes when God blesses us with provision and wealth he has someone else in mind for us to bless.  To be efficient channels for Godís blessings we need to have generous hearts, ears that are open to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to bless others as we receive blessings from our Heavenly Father.                                                      

  • Indifference Hooks.  Seeing others in need or in pain, then being baited to ignore their need and pretend we donít notice by looking the other way.
  • Lust Hooks.  These hooks generally come with live baits attached.  See live baits and how they work above.
  • Envy / Covetous Hooks.  See dead baits above.  
  • Pride Hooks.  These hooks like to tickle or inflate our egos, make us think we are larger than life, better than others, and fill us with false pride, arrogance and feelings of superiority.  This was the sin that reduced Lucifer from the most powerful angel in Heaven into the deceiver and destroyer we now know as Satan.
  • Dishonesty Hooks.  Dead baits that encourage us to take what is not ours, at the expense of others who have worked hard for the things that we are tempted to steal from them.  Some examples are; being baited by the enemy to take something from our employer, and listening to his lie when he says, itís OK; itís a perk of the job.  Another more subtle example is; illegally downloading or copying the intellectual property and artistic works of other people like music, movies, software and video games.  Many people donít see illegal downloading or copying of intellectual property as theft, because they are not stealing something tangible, just a bunch of ones and zeros, the binary code that all digital data is created and transmitted in.  Satan uses our desire to get something for free to participate in this behaviour, then heaps condemnation on us when we do it.  At the end of the day, there is no free lunch in life, and we need to understand that this behaviour is theft, it is sin, and we know what the wages of sin are if we persist in it.      
  • Lazy Hooks.  Used with dead baits that may entice us to sponge off the hard work of others and not pull our weight.  This in turn presents us as live baits to those we sponge off because our actions, or rather our inactions, cause offense to people in our lives who work hard, and feel unappreciated because of our lack of concern for them, and our willingness to sit back and watch them work.  Lazy hooks are a major factor in broken marriages and relationships, for being terminated from employment, and/or being overlooked for promotion.
  • Greed Hooks.  Garnished with your classic dead baits.  The greed hook can be accompanied by a whole family of hooks including the selfish hook, the covetous hook, the gambling hook and the disrespect hook.  The greed hook is the one that says; I donít care about anyone else, I want it all for myself and I donít care how I get it.  The greed hook once taken presents us as live baits to bait those who our greed affects, with hooks of resentment.  Being greedy and being seen to be greedy, causes a bunch of negative responses in those around us ,because essentially we are saying to those affected by our greed; so long as I get what I want, I donít care about you. The greedy hook can have a very negative effect on or relationships with others.
  • Disobedience Hooks.  Used with dead baits like pride, anger and disrespect that if swallowed; presents us as live baits and encourages us to disobey parents and those in authority over us.  More importantly, they encourage us into disobedience against God when we are tempted by sin then wilfully and deliberately decide to take the bait anyway.  This is when sin really has the potential to become embedded and get a firm grip on our lives. This can advance us from a casual taster of some act of disobedience in a moment of weakness, on to full a blown addiction to that thing.

WJGT © 2010