28 February 2023
- 6…they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break; 7and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
- Luke 5:6-7 nasb
- 6…They cast… and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.… 8the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.… 11Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.
- John 21:6,8,11 nasb
Asbury, Tarrying, Shepherds, and Nets
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Ah, timeliness! Weeks ago when I wrote the first draft of this newsletter, the “Asbury awakening” (awakening is what the wise school leaders there are calling it) had not yet begun. Whether Asbury is the start of an actual, nation-sweeping revival, or merely a foreshock of something to come remains to be seen. But…
On January 1st I heard a message from a dear pastor friend, Mark Sellers, which impelled me to transcribe, edit, and publish a Percy Gutteridge audio message. It took Denise and me six weeks of work, but that message — Why Revival Tarries — is now posted on our website. In it, Percy, my father in the Lord, proposed a challenging concept: Full revival tarries because there aren’t enough believers in the Church who are prepared by God to be used as His shepherds for all the newborn “sheep” who will enter the Kingdom — and the Church.
When the Holy Spirit moves in sweeping revival, multitudes come to Jesus. The relatively few pastors and spiritual leaders would be overwhelmed by the many souls who will come to Jesus in such a move of God. Without many individual, surrendered men and women disciplined and heart-prepared by the Lord to care for and disciple the converts, many of these new “sheep” could be lost.
I’d like to come at Pastor Gutteridge’s subject in a slightly different way. (In fact, he may have taught me what I’m about to share; I know the concept is not original with me.) Let’s change the analogy from sheep to fish and look at the difference between Jesus’ disciples in their first attempt at a great haul of fish (Luke 5:4-7) and their last success before Pentecost (John 21:5-11).
In the first instance:
- They hauled in a great quantity, but no one knew how many.
- The nets began to break because they were too small and weak.
- Peter and Andrew had to call for help after the fact; there was no pre-planned coordination.
- The boats themselves were too small, and once filled with fish, the vessels were in danger of sinking.
In the latter instance:
- The team in the boat was larger, and they had served Jesus together for three years.
- They knew exactly how many fish had been caught (153).
- The nets didn’t break; they were stronger.
- The boat wasn’t in danger of capsizing, despite a bigger crew and a massive catch.
- They had a better method of bringing all the fish to shore.
There were about three years between the two incidents. What changed? The difference is the time they had spent together and with Jesus. They had died to self, learned to obey, learned to love each other and respect each other’s gifts and callings, and been built together as a team. By the time of the fishing miracle John 21 describes, these men themselves had become Jesus’ “net,” as it were, along with the rest of the 120 faithful ones (Acts 1:15). They were just a Pentecost away from being ready to absorb God’s first “catch” of 3000 souls (Acts 2:41).
We, the Church, are the “net.” Nets need careful weaving and mending. Let’s look to mending and improving our relationships with God and the brethren individually. Working with nets, and “net”working, require “all able-bodied hands present and on deck”; “sharing the experience” on YouTube or Facebook does nothing to aid with pulling in the catch. Nets are used cooperatively — God’s “net” is not just the church we attend; indeed, He may well pour out His revival Spirit on some other fellowship! At that point we’ll have to decide whether to just observe enviously and miss the blessing, or to dive in and help the Lord with His catch wherever He decides to bless the fishing.
Updates from Latin America
- Guatemala: I asked you last month to pray for the election results for the superintendency of a certain denomination I work with in Guatemala. The election result? “None of the above”! Pastor Walter Almaras and his wife Yadira need our prayers now as he steps into the large shoes left by Atilio Chávez and his wife Gladys, who have faithfully served the pastors and churches in this capacity for 24 years (more than half their adult lives).
- Honduras: Information has been harder to come by, but through recent correspondence with Pastor Angel Alvarez (based in Tegucigalpa), I’m informed that a new church has been planted, which is a cause for praise! And it’s an opportunity to pray for this church (Rayito de Luz [Little Ray of Light]) in its outreach to the surrounding community of Barrio de 28 Junio (Neighborhood of June 28th [and, no, I have no idea why it’s called that!]), one of the poor, hillside “suburbs” of the capital city.
I only know the new pastor’s first name — Álex. And unless I’ve lost count, this is the third church that Pastor Angel oversees and helps.
Pilgrim’s (Publication) Progress
Here are six more quick notes about our publication pilgrimage:
- Already mentioned, but worth repeating: Percy Gutteridge’s message Why Revival Tarries is now up on our website (click on the printer icon at the top or bottom of this or any of our Bible studies for a free, downloadable PDF copy) and as an Amazon e-booklet.
The sin of Moses —
have you ever wondered what it was?6
- The Secret of John’s Appeal, a preview chapter from book #3 of our The John the Baptist Experience series, is also now available online. Another chapter, On the Brink of Failure?, from the same book, has been completed as well and appeared today on our website. Goal: have both titles available in Kindle format by the end of March.
- We are still carefully sifting through the Spanish-language e-book version of Logos y Rhema, isolating errors and typos. This translation of Percy Gutteridge’s very helpful Logos & Rhema message, already on the website, is nearly ready. After probably one more editorial session we will be ready to press the “publish” button.
- Translation into Spanish of the endnotes of my book The Rejected Blessing (La Bendición Rechazada) has been completed. On to the coding process for the website!
- I’m still praying about which “next chapter” to complete and web-publish from The Extraordinary Message (Book #2 of The John the Baptist Experience series). The feedback that I am receiving confirms the burden on my heart, namely that this is a message the Body of Christ needs to hear.
Let’s always seek to be in God’s will, flowing with the current of His Providence, not against it or heedless of it. To that end, would you please join us in prayer for…
- The subject of last month’s newsletter was the “new thing” that God is doing in our lives. The sense of uncertainty, certainty, urgency, expectancy, and anticipation grows. We’re still seeking God for the ability to see, understand, and respond to “the new thing” towards which the Lord seems to be leading us. Someone wrote me a very encouraging email about this, so I know you’re praying! And many thanks to those of you who are being faithful in your support. However things evolve, the ministry continues and the needs are ongoing.
- Meanwhile, some teaching opportunities have solidified. Last month I had the unexpected opportunity to teach a small, online class for Redemption Ministries of Virginia on the book of Romans. That has opened the door for me to teach the all-day session on 1 & 2 Corinthians on March 11th. These courses are part of their School of Ministry, required for those seeking ordination. And…
- …North Florida Theological Seminary has confirmed that I will be teaching there all day on Saturday, April 15th.
- Dates for this year’s Guatemala teaching trip have not been set yet, but it generally occurs in May.
- What should our next Spanish translation project be?
- Discernment in knowing which chapter of The Extraordinary Message to finish next.
We thank God for your prayers, support, friendship, and encouragement.
Much love in Jesus,
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- The We Are the Net graphic uses as its background a photo by Hartano Subagio on Unsplash.com. ↩
- Photo of fish in a basket is by Norbert Braun on Unsplash. ↩
- Photo of piled fishing nets by Krisztian Tabori on Unsplash ↩
- Photo of Pastor Walter Almaras is my own, taken during a visit in 2016 ↩
- Photos courtesy of Pastor Angel Alvarez ↩
- The Jordan River background photo for our individual Bible-study chapters in The John the Baptist Experience shown above was shot by Rex Wholster and is used under license from iStockphotos.com. ↩