LOST IN TRANSLATION (PART 3)

    There are many brethren who are persuaded that a “word-for-word” version of the Bible, or a literal translation of it is the best and only way to truly learn God’s word. A few versions exist such as Young’s Literal Translation that attempts to render every word exactly as it appears in the original Greek.

Is it true that literal is best?

    In one sense, it is true, but for the most part, it is not. In fact, a literal translation can actually create more confusion than clarity if certain concepts, knowledge of the original language, and translation skills are not correctly employed. So, why do people say that they want a word-for-word translation? Most likely, what they mean is they prefer a translation that comes as close as possible to translating every word directly from the original text.
    Unfortunately, translating from one language to another simply doesn’t work that way. Many languages have multiple words implied within a single word, such as a conjugated verb or declined noun. One language may have numerous words for an object while another may not. For example, Norway’s northernmost indigenous people, the Sami, have 180 words for “snow” while the Swedish have just 25! The Bible is similar to that. There are approximately 140,000 words in the Greek New Testament while there are between 175-185,000 words in the various English versions. How does one translate word-for-word with such a vast discrepancy? Obviously, it is not possible!

Problematic Placement

    As mentioned in our previous articles on this subject (available on our website), there are numerous factors involved when it comes to translating the Bible. Some of the challenges we discussed were idiomatic expressions, linguistic concepts, and difficulties with loan words. However, there is yet another challenge that encumbers translators, and that is, word order. It can greatly affect how we understand what is happening within a statement and who is involved. English has a rather strict set of rules regarding word order. Here is a simplistic description: the subject (the person, place, or thing doing the action) comes first, then the verb (action). Afterward, a direct object (that which receives the action) and an indirect object (that which is effected by the action) can be added onto the end of the sentence. “Bob threw the ball to Mark,” is an example of subject, verb, direct object and indirect object. With this order, we can easily discern who did what to whom.
    Biblical Greek is not restricted to word order! Each and every word can be written in a way that determines its function within a sentence. The verb can be placed first in a sentence, with the subject last, and so forth. In fact, Greek does this quite often for emphasis. This is because the beginning of the sentence carries more emphasis than the end. Here is an example from Hebrews 4:12 in a direct, word-for-word translation and word order, “Living for the word the God and active …” Does that make any sense to you? Probably not. If we apply English word order rules, then what is meant by “living for the word” and so forth? But if we apply Greek word-function rules and order, we easily see that emphasis is being placed upon the word “living.” We might translate it this way, “The word of God is living and active.” Emphasis was added to the word “living” by writing it in bold letters.
    Hopefully, this has helped explain that, essentially, it is impossible to produce a literal, word-for-word translation. Even Young’s version isn’t exactly word for word, but smoothed out for English. The answer to not losing anything in translation is to study the original language; learn its methods. After all, it is the language in which God selected to reveal His will. Why wouldn’t we strive to learn the language He chose in order to better understand His will?!


LOST IN TRANSLATION (PART 2)

    Last week, we considered how difficult it is to translate the Bible into English due to the various nuances and linguistic concepts that languages possess. There are many times when it is simply impossible to transmit the exact meaning of a word or phrase from the Bible’s original language into the new target language. In addition, translators do not always make the best grammarians. They may know the languages well that they’re working with and even know how to convert words between the two, but they don’t always make the best choices in word selection, word order, or definition. This week, let’s consider some more challenges that Bible translators have to face.

Borrow and Adoption

    One interesting challenge with translating between languages often has to do with “loanwords.” These are words that are adopted from one language (the donor language) and incorporated into another language without translation. Some examples of words that we have adopted from other languages include, karaoke from Japanese, paparazzi from Italian, caravan from Arabic, and kindergarten from German. It has been estimated that approximately 80% of the English language is made up of loanwords from more than 350 languages! The top contributor is Latin, with French and Greek following.
    Other languages also borrow from English. When we were in Paraguay, everyone understood what I meant when I would ask for the Wifi password. They had adopted the pronunciation exactly as we say it. They also adopted shopping, but they added a rather funny Spanish accent to it. However, in each case, there was also a slight nuance added or subtracted to the meaning from the original.
    The Bible gives some examples of loanwords that were used interchangeably between cultures. “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ),” (John 1:41). This is a word that was eventually adopted into the various cultures of the Roman Empire because of the spread of Christianity. It became its own word in the Greek language and today, is readily understood around the globe.

Translation or Transliteration?

    The case of what happened to the word, Messiah, in John 1:41 is an example of transliteration. This is the practice of adopting a word by simply using the closest corresponding letters of a different language, rather than translating it into the target language. Messiah became Messias in Greek. It literally means, the anointed one. But, instead of translating those words into Greek, it was simply adopted in a similar form from the original Hebrew word. Bible translators have done this countless times over the centuries. Our English words such as deacon, apostle, angel, and evangelism are all examples of transliteration from the Greek, instead of direct translation. Not knowing their original meanings can lead to misunderstandings and even false doctrines.
    Perhaps, the most infamous case of transliteration involves the word baptism. To a Greek speaker, it simply meant immersion, or to be submerged. There was no confusion as to how one was to obey the command of being baptized (Acts 2:38, 22:16). They didn’t question if they should be sprinkled, have water poured on them, or be immersed, because the word means immersion! There are other words for sprinkle and pour in the Greek language. Unfortunately, Bible translators have created a great deal of confusion among English speaking people by not translating the word directly into English. The loss of meaning has led to false doctrines. It is yet another classic case of something very important “getting lost in the translation.”


LOST IN TRANSLATION (PART 1)

    Language can be a rather intriguing part of life and also very confusing! Whatever your native tongue might be, there are always certain nuances and subtleties within that language that can impede one’s understanding of a word, a phrase, or especially, an idiomatic expression. Keeping up with the latest slang words or popular catch phrases is a prime example of that. To older people, young people seem to communicate with each other in an entirely different language, even though they are using English words. Have you ever carried on a conversation with someone from Australia? They may be speaking English, but they do it in a distinctly different way. Pick up copy of the old King James Bible, the one printed in the original 1611 form of the language, and you will see just how much English has changed in the last 400 years. Indeed, navigating through a language can be a daunting effort.
    When it comes to translating from one language to another, navigating through the grammatical rules, phrasal functions, and linguistic concepts can become an overwhelming task. For example, if I say, “He let the cat out of the bag,” to an American, he/she will probably understand what I mean without much hesitation. But if I translate that, literally, into Spanish and say it to one of my Latino friends, it makes absolutely no sense at all to them. The same is true going the other direction. There’s a phrase I love in Paraguayan Spanish, it is, “Si o Si.” Translated, it means “Yes, or Yes.” Does that make any sense to you? Probably not. A better English translation would be something like, “absolutely; for sure; definitely.” A slight difference in understanding, right?

Translating the Bible

    The reason this is important to comprehend is because the original Bible was not written in English. It was written in Hebrew and Greek, Koine Greek, to be exact. That means, “common Greek,” which was the tongue of the average citizen in the first century. Both languages are very specific, but also laden with idiomatic expressions, distinct grammatical rules, and linguistic concepts that do not always translate directly into the English language. That is why it is such a challenge for translators to correctly transmit the meaning of a passage from the original to English. It is also the reason why we have so many versions of the Bible in our language. Not only has the English language changed over the years, which precipitated a need for new translations, but there have also been several individuals throughout history who decided they could make a better translation more easily understood by all.
    Unfortunately, translators do not always make the best grammarians. Sometimes a doctrinal bias might even slant their translation of a word, or they may simply ignore cultural variances. For example, the word “Jehovah” is a mis-transcription (mistranslation) made by Medieval era Bible translators which first appeared in A.D. 1381. They took the consonants of the divine name YHWH and combined them with the vowels of another Hebrew word for God, adonai. However, our English Y represents the sound J in certain other languages and we have vowels that are pronounced differently than other languages. The result was the invention of a word that appears nowhere in the original language. It is a classic case of something very important “getting lost in the translation.”


THREE UNMISTAKABLE DIFFERENCES

   Through many denominational acquaintances I have made from Bible studies, I have been able to identify a noticeable pattern. It seems there are always three specific things that distinctly separate the church of Christ from everyone else. Three points stand out as completely foreign to my religious friends. Of course, things like no musical instruments in worship, men only in church leadership, no central headquarters, or taking the Lord’s Supper every Sunday are obviously different from the denominations. But, they all understood those topics and simply proposed arguments to justify their doctrinal positions. When these other topics became part of the discussion, however, it was as if I had began speaking in a foreign language to them. It was clear they were not fully comprehending what I was saying. The three topics were always: sole authority of the New Testament, the Biblical concept of the kingdom, and Scriptural baptism. Our stance on these these doctrines caused a severe disconnect in those religious friends.

Sole Authority of the New Testament

   Almost every Protestant denomination will claim “Sola Scriptura,” (Latin: by scripture alone) as their maxim. This is the theological doctrine that scripture is the sole, infallible rule of faith and practice. However, they will then turn right around and have a central headquarters somewhere to whom they answer! They will often also have a creed, discipline, or confession that they follow in addition to the Bible. This completely contradicts sola scriptura. There is also a consistent confusion as to the separation of the Testaments. Old Testament practices are incorporated into New Testament Christianity which, essentially, ignores Colossians 2:14. This is one major point that separates the church of Christ from all others. We truly believe that the Bible only is our sole authority in all things religious, (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3).

Biblical Concept of the Kingdom

   The grand majority of our religious friends have been sold a false bill of goods. They’ve bought into an idea of a rapture and a second coming of Jesus where He establishes a throne on earth. Basically, it is a doctrine of second chances. We call it Pre-millennialism. Sadly, it completely distorts one’s understanding of what the kingdom of God truly is. From what I have witnessed, the church of Christ is the only church that adheres to what the Bible teaches about the kingdom. According to passages like Revelation 1:9; or Mark 9:1 in conjunction with Acts 1:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 4:20, the kingdom has already come. If you consider Matthew 16:18,19; John 3:3, 18:36; and Colossians 1:13 together, then the kingdom is the same thing as the church, just like the church is also called the “body,” (Colossians 1:18). This is one of those doctrines that unmistakably separates us from all other religious bodies.

Scriptural Baptism

   I cannot tell you how many times I have explained, “Salvation is on the other side of baptism, not on this side of baptism,” (Acts 2:38, 22:16; Galatians 3:27). It is simply a difficult truth for many of our religious friends to accept. For some reason, man has always had a problem with obedience (cf. Genesis 3).
Baptism has to do with obedience and there’s just something about it that causes many religious people to rebel against God’s commands. Any small child can easily understand the phrase, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16). But a full grown adult can’t quite seem to grasp the concept. This separates us from our religious friends because they have been taught that it is not necessary, that you are saved by just believing. That is not what the Scriptures teach! Space does not allow me to elaborate more on these, but suffice it to say that these are the three biggest “sticking points” for anyone outside of the church of Christ. We need to teach these more and do it with love and humility.


7 WAYS TO BECOME AN ENCOURAGER

    The Book of Acts presents a unique individual, described slightly different than others. “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), …” (Acts 4:36). Here, we have a man who was given a nickname by the Apostles because of a particular personality trait he possessed, he was an encourager. That is quite a compliment! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Christians were known by that same characteristic. Are you an encourager? You should be. We should all be more like Barnabas. With that in mind, here are just a few suggestions we hope might help you to develop the admirable attribute of being an encourager.

1. Pray for someone to encourage

   The first step toward any character change should begin with bathing it in prayer. Ask God to use you as an encourager, to help you identify someone to encourage. Ask for strength and wisdom in how to best lift someone up, whether it be a stranger, an acquaintance, a family member, or one of your own brethren. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

2. Phone calls, Cards, Letters, and Email

   In our age of communication, there are many avenues available to us for connecting with someone. A personal phone call, a letter, or even a written email is enough to encourage anyone who receives it. While text messages are also an easy method for communicating, use it minimally. It simply lacks the more personal touch needed when trying to encourage someone. Remember, however, nothing encourages someone more than doing it face to face. (Hebrews 10:25)

3. Use Social Media to Exhort

   There is no shortage of distressing news, complaining, and vitriol posted on most social media outlets these days. Why not show the attitude of Barnabas to everyone and become known as a great encourager on Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms? It is easy to be a shining light in such a dark place because few people are doing it. (Matt 5:16)

4. Offer Prayers

   Ask someone if you can pray for them. Ask if there is anything specific that they would like for you to pray to God about. Then, pray right then and there with them. This can be so encouraging to those struggling with life’s difficulties, diseases, or demands. It is an extremely effective way to encourage others. (James 5:16)

5. Notice Strangers

   We interact with people every day: waiters, cashiers, mechanics, receptionists, sales clerks, couriers, etc. They interact with many people everyday also who, typically, don’t treat them very kindly. Giving them respect, a smile, or even a word of encouragement is almost always appreciated. It will make their day and your light will shine!

6. Smile! A lot.

   Sounds simple enough, but sometimes easier to say than do. A smile is one of the easiest, most effective ways to encourage someone else. It communicates love and positive feelings. You will feel better yourself and that usually radiates out to others. Barnabas most likely smiled a lot, don’t you think? (Job 9:27)

7. Imitate Other Encouragers

   One of the best ways to learn how to do something well is to watch others who do it well. Notice what they say, how they say it, and other methods they use. It will help you identify what works best for you. Become aware of what encourages you and then go do it to others. (1 Corinthians 11:1)


WHERE IS JESUS IN THIS?

WHERE IS JESUS IN THIS?
by Troy Spradlin
 
    One of my favorite maxims, or rules of life, is this, “It is always right to do right. It is always wrong to do wrong. It is never right to do wrong and it is never wrong to do right.” That truth has helped me navigate through some of life’s toughest moments. It has never failed me when making a difficult decision. It is one of those precepts that has always proven to be reliable. Over the years, however, I have developed another rule of life to use alongside that one. It is simply, “Where is Jesus in this?” No matter what the situation may be, how difficult a decision is, or how troublesome a scenario turns out, asking the question, “Where is Jesus in this?” has always guided me in the right direction.

WWJD or WDJD?

    Years ago, there was a popular acronym displayed on bumper stickers, billboards, T-Shirts, and many other things that was, “WWJD?” Many of you may remember that it stood for “What would Jesus do?” While the intention was certainly good, I personally, felt that it missed the mark of being truly useful. The word would leaves too much room for speculation or personal interpretation. This can be extremely dangerous because our thoughts or intentions may not line up with what Jesus actually did. It allows for one to say, “Well, I think Jesus would do this in this situation,” when in reality He might not. Wouldn’t it be better to imitate Christ than to speculate as to what He might do? I have always thought a better acronym would be “WDJD – What did Jesus do?” If we simply study His actions and replicate them to the best of our ability, then we certainly cannot go wrong with that!

APPLICATION

    Looking for Jesus in every situation will greatly bless your life. There is almost nothing that this truth cannot be applied to. For example, before you are about to confront someone, or engage in a difficult conversation, ask yourself, “Where’s Jesus in this?” and it will help you have the right attitude before going into it. If you become angry with someone, look for Jesus in the situation and it will help you deal with it in a more proper, Christian manner. Perhaps, you know of a couple of brethren who are at odds with each other, ask them to think about “Where’s Jesus in this?” It can possibly provide the remedy so desperately needed in the resolution of the conflict.
    There are also those moments when we have to make difficult decisions. Sometimes, we must make a decision in a rush, which can often result in making a bad decision. Asking “Where is Jesus in this?” will always guide you in making the best determination. If we are honest with ourselves and truly look upon His example, we should always be able to find a good solution. But, in order for this to work the way it should, you must first learn about Jesus. Open up your Bible and get to know the Son of God. Observe His actions, His mannerisms, and His responses to various situations. Let that be your guide. The more you know about Him, the easier it is to lean upon Him, and this will help you to always do what is right.


Many Blessings of 2018

MANY BLESSINGS OF 2018
What a great year this has been! This past year was marked with some new milestones and achievements! Our Margaret Street family experienced a few new changes and faced some challenges, as well. Overall, it was certainly a successful and eventful year. Above all, our God was glorified in the process! Let us take a moment at some of the highlights of this year. As you reflect over these bullet points, won’t you take a moment, stop, and pray to God?
 
Let’s give Him the thanks and recognition He deserves for the blessings He has poured out upon all of us here at Margaret Street. We are blessed!
New additions to the family!
  • Eden Wren Hatcher was born March 15th.
  • Harrison Wyatt Freeman was born August 15th.
  • Carder Dilger was baptized into Christ on April 16th.
  • Colby Bingham was baptized into Christ on May 9th.
  • Brayden Davis was baptized into Christ November 29th.
  • Stephen Fulton was identified as a member.
  • Billy and Barbara Helms were identified as members.
  • Peggy Mason was restored to the family.

Evangelism, Missions, and Benevolence

  • Hosted dinners for the Milton H.S. Football Team
  • Entered a booth in the Annual Scratch Ankle Festival
  • We made mission trips to Georgia and to Paraguay
  • Blessed with a new missionary family: Scott, Rebecca, and Violet Shanahan and a new mission work effort to Italy
  • We served many local families with several hundred food boxes through our Pantry this year!

We hosted several successful seminars, activities, and fellowship gatherings:

  • Our youth group brought home 39 awards and trophies from the Lads-2-Leaders Conference!
  • Annual Area Wide Youth Gathering
  • Vacation Bible School with the theme of “The Judges”
  • Human Trafficking Seminar with Theresa Moses.
  • A successful Family Enrichment Seminar with David Baker.
  • SRC Church Leadership Luncheons
  • The first ever Spiritual Renewal Forum, UpKeep! in the NW Florida area.
  • Don’t forget about the Sweetheart Banquet, L2L Banquet, Graduates Banquet, Thanksgiving Banquet, Fall Festival, Christmas Party, Elder’s Banquet, Men’s Breakfasts, and Ladies’ Game Nights
There is so much more we could list, but space is limited. As you think of some of those other things, please give God thanks for those also. We can’t wait for this next year because we know God is going to provide even more blessings as we strive to honor and glorify Him in all that we do!


THE MARGARET STREET FAMILY

   Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of our visitors. Why would anyone want to be a part of our congregation here at Margaret Street church of Christ? Have you ever considered what makes us stand out or different from anyone else? What would be the draw for someone new to come here?
   While pure and sound doctrine, standing for Biblical truth, and practicing first century Christianity should be the main reason most people are attracted to Margaret Street, let’s be perfectly honest with ourselves, many who come through the door for the first time are simply looking to see what kind of environment exists here. Before they start considering doctrinal questions, most seekers merely want to know if this might be a place where they feel welcomed and loved. People only want to be a part of something if they feel like they belong. So, do we make our visitors feel like they belong? I think we do and there have been many visitors who’ve expressed that Margaret Street is a special place – a very friendly, loving place to be.

What makes Margaret Street so special?

Through our love for Jesus, we strive to emphasize family – both in our spiritual family of the congregation itself and in our physical families that make up the congregation. In today’s world, the home and family are constantly under attack. We want to provide support, encouragement, and spiritual nourishment to all of our families in order to help them withstand those destructive forces. Here are a few of the things we offer to help strengthen our families:
  • For our youth: We offer Sunday and Wednesday Bible classes and other activities through our Margaret Street Youth and Lads to Leaders Programs. There are frequent youth devotionals for Jr and Sr High students, called “S.N.A.C.” (Sunday Night After Church) and “Stair Stackers” for grade school children. Our youth also attend numerous camps, conferences, and area-wide gatherings throughout the year.
  • For our smaller children: We offer “Cradle Roll” and Nursery classes, as well as, other activities like our annual Fall Festival and Christmas Party.
  • For the adults: We have regular Sunday, Wednesday, and weekday Bible classes in multiple topics and groups, such as our “Golden Agers,” “20-Somethings,” Ladie’s Class, and others. We also have seminars and special events for various Biblical and family topics. We schedule many activities throughout the year such as retreats, devotionals, workshops, holiday gatherings, and special fellowship gatherings.
  • Our Breakout Connection Groups provide an opportunity for everyone to make new friends and to help strengthen relationships among the membership.
Fostering a family-friendly environment is very important to us! Those who follow Jesus are called His “body” (Colossians 1:18) and the “family of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Our members are striving to be that loving, encouraging, and obedient family as described in the New Testament. We believe it makes us unique and this a special place to be. We want everyone to know Jesus. Let’s start with our loving family!


PERPLEXING BIBLE WORDS: CALVARY

PERPLEXING BIBLE WORDS: CALVARY

by Troy Spradlin
    I love that old hymn we sing in worship, “Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died On Calvary. Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary! ” Not only have I heard the word Calvary from this song, but I’ve also heard it mentioned in many sermons. What is “Calvary” exactly?
    The word comes from a verse found in Luke, And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, …” (23:33). Curiously, only the King James Version, and the New King James use this word in that verse. If you compare the same verse in the English Standard Version, the New American Standard, the CEV, the NIV, and others, you will see that they do not use the word Calvary in those translations. Instead, they use another word, Golgotha, which is also found in other verses like Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22; and John 19:17. Even the KJV uses the word Golgotha in those verses.
 

So, why the difference? Where did this word come from?

    First of all, consider what John says, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha,” (19:17). Here, we see the word is from a specific location with a peculiar name and John explains the translation. The name of the place in Greek is kranion topos (kraniou topou). Now, say the words again slowly. Do you hear a similarity to our English word cranium in there? Our word came from the Greek language! Also, our word topography, meaning “the arrangement of geographical features” comes from the Greek topos, meaning “place.” In Hebrew, the place is called Gulgolet and in Aramaic it is Golgolta. These words were transliterated into the English rendition, Golgotha. So, all of them are just as John translated it, “the place of the skull.”
    Secondly, the English rendition of the word Calvary comes from yet another translation of the Bible, the Latin Vulgate. In that version, it is translated as Calvariae Locus. The Latin word calavaria simply means “skull,” just like cranium, kranion, gulgolet, or golgolta do in each of their respective languages. Translators of the King James Version merely transliterated the Latin word into English for their rendition of Luke 23:33. Since the KJV is one of the most widely distributed Bible translations in history, the word Calvary has become a familiar part of our English religious vernacular.

Where is Calvary?

    The place itself is often misunderstood. Calvary, (Golgotha) refers to the cliff face of a hill, just outside the Damascus Gate of Old Jerusalem, whose rock protrusions and indentations give it the distinctive appearance of a human skull (photo above). Interestingly, the Bible never says that Jesus was crucified on Calvary. It just says He came “into” the place called “the skull.”  The imagery of crosses positioned on top of a hill called Calvary came from old Renaissance paintings and the like. In fact, Golgotha faces an ancient east-west road that runs just north of Jerusalem. The area in front of the cliff face is precisely the type of location the Romans would utilize to crucify individuals so that their gruesome handiwork would scare people passing by, deterring any future rebels against Rome.
Who knew there was so much to a word we sing in a song?


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THE FISHERMAN’S CLUB
    In a beautiful countryside surrounded by lakes and streams full of fish, a few local fishermen began meeting rather frequently to talk about fishing and the abundance of fish. The group eventually formed a “Fisherman’s Club” to define what fishing means, what makes a fisherman, and defend fishing as an occupation. Research began for new and improved methods of fishing. The club eventually developed a mission plea that declared “Everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish.” As the association grew and expanded to other areas, they started holding large meetings and conferences called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” where they would discuss and promote fishing practices, new fishing equipment, and newly developed baits.
One thing no one ever did, however, was go fishing.
    The club grew so much that the fishermen decided to build a large, beautiful “Fishing Headquarters”. In time, it became a large training center to teach fishermen how to fish. Courses were offered on the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, the needs of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had masters degrees and doctorates in fishology. Of course, the teachers did not fish, they only taught about fishing. As a result, many who felt the call to become fishermen responded. They went on to graduate and were given fishing licenses. They were given salaries and were all sent out to do full-time fishing, some locally and some to distant waters. In some of the places they went, they built power plants to pump water for fish and used special methods to make new waterways for fish. Some of them constantly traveled around the world looking for potential fish hatcheries. Others decided they wanted to be part of the fishing association, but felt they had been called to furnish fishing equipment and baits, instead. Others believed their job was to relate to the fish in a way that would exemplify the difference between a good and bad fishermen. Still, others figured that simply letting the fish know they were nice, kind, land-loving neighbors was enough to persuade them.
The one thing everyone still neglected to do, sadly, was go fishing.
    Finally one day, after a prominent member of the club gave a rather stirring lecture about “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young man decided that he would go fishing. The next day, he returned to report that he had caught two outstanding fish! In fact, he was amazed at how easy it really was and that the fish were so abundant! The Fisherman’s Club leaders were greatly impressed and immediately honored the young man for his remarkable catch. Soon, he was scheduled to visit all the major clubhouses of the association and tell everyone how he did it. He was placed at the top of the lecturer’s circuit as a one having considerable experience. His memoirs of that day of fishing were eventually published and became a best seller. Almost overnight it seemed, he began to travel and lecture so much and was so popular that he had to give up fishing in order to focus on this new career direction.
    Now, it is true that some fishermen in the club had sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. A few even lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. Still, others had been ridicule by those who made fun of their clubs and pointed out that, while they may claim to be fishermen, they never went fishing! Imagine how hurt some club members must have been when it was suggested that those who don’t catch fish are not really fishermen. After all, didn’t the Master say, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”?
Is a person truly a fisherman if, year after year, he never catches a fish? Are you truly following Jesus if you’re not actually fishing?