Tag Archives: Friends

You Caught What? Where? Fishing?

You Caught What? Where?


Ashlyn and Brayden live in a crowded suburban neighborhood filled with dogs and cats; bikes and kids. Regular kids, some that love to fish. One little guy fashioned a fishing pole from a stick, borrowed fishing line and a small plastic worm with a hook. Brayden borrowed the pole and dropped the line in the storm drain at the end of his street. That’s right! The storm drain, but even more amazing was the fact that he actually caught a fish. 
Once Brayden got a fish on his line he wasn’t sure what to do with it. But Ashlyn wasn’t going to be out-done by a fish. She picked up the pole and started home with it, that’s right, with the fish dragging behind her. Sorry animal lovers, she was just three.  She didn’t know what to do, but she knew her daddy would. When Kimberly looked out the front door she saw a parade of kids heading toward her front garage door. There in the middle of the parade was Ashlyn and the fish dragging behind her. Kimberly was horrified, but Ashlyn was just taking her prize catch to her dad.
As with all my stories, you know I’m headed somewhere besides the obvious. I have two points to make.
  1. Their desire to fish took them to an unusual place.
  2. They didn’t know what to do with the fish when they got it.
I understand a storm drain is an unusual place to catch a fish. In all my years, I’ve never fished there, but they did. Amazingly, although they  fished in an unusual place AND although they didn’t have fancy equipment, they still caught a fish. 
We need to get creative in our fishing locations- I mean spiritual fishing-where we fish for souls. Fishing locations are everywhere-shopping malls, hallelujah! PTA meetings, do they still call them that? Walking trails through a park, ball games, wherever you find people, that’s a good place to witness. You don’t need fancy words or methods, just a heart that loves God. You’ve got a story–what God has done for you. Your story needs to shared and they need to hear it. 
What’s next?
But the next part of this illustration is equally important. We don’t seem to know what to do with people once we catch them. Ashlyn knew enough to connect that fish with her daddy. How successful are you (and your church for that matter) at connecting people with your Heavenly Father?  I hope it’s less painful than Ashlyn’s dragging process! Don’t push or prod, but don’t miss an opportunity either. Do you know how to pray with someone to be born again? Learn how if you don’t.  A good fisherman knows how to pull in a fish and land it. A believer should be able to do the same–spiritually speaking of course. Still, don’t forget you are not responsible to pull in every fish–doing your best is all you can do.
But then what? Church and discipleship is a natural progress for a believer. If new believers are going to thrive, they need to get back into a spiritual environment that is conducive to growth. Invite them to church.
When people walk through the doors of your church what happens to that person?
  •  Are they ignored as if they were invisible?
  •  Is there a discipleship program? 
What should happen? Greeters are supposed to be friendly. Pastors are expected to be warm and gracious to visitors, but a church is NOT a friendly church if the people stay in their little clique and don’t reach out to new people. Make it your job to make the first move to welcome someone into your circle of influence. And even if the other people aren’t doing it, be friendly. You may create a new culture in your church–a culture of inclusion.u
Let me encourage you to do the following:
  • Be friendly. 
  • Introduce yourself. 
  • Ask their name. 
  • Repeat their name. 
  • Ask them disarming questions that show you are really interested.Questions like what is your profession? Do you live in this area? How many children do you have? Now don’t rattle questions off like a machine gun, but ask them warmly with genuinely interest.
  • Then write down their names in your  notes or iPhone.
Friendliness should start in the parking lot and continue into the sanctuary. So start your friendliness in the parking lot and don’t forget the bathroom. I hate it when there’s several women washing their hands in the bathroom and they just ignore me. Most of the time, even if I’m visiting there I’ll be the first to speak. Just remember to treat people like you would an honored guest in your home. That attitude will serve you well. 
Reach out to people you don’t recognize even if they aren’t a first time visitor. While I’ve been burned enough times that I don’t always ask a standard, “Are you new here?” question. I do try to introduce myself and ask their name. Again repeating the introductory questions that I would ask a visitor.
Pray for the people you meet when you get back to your seat and everyday the next week. If you do, two things will happen:
  1. You’ll remember their name.
  2. You’ll enrich their lives with your prayer.
Never forget the fish you catch aren’t for eating. (Boy, could I go off on that subject, but I won’t!) You put them in a happy pond, watch them mature. It all begins with warm, welcoming, loving people reaching out to someone they don’t know. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. It’s everyone’s responsibility, but since you are the only person you can control, let it start with you.

Friend or Fiend

strangler fig wraps itself around a nearby tree. It wasn't what it looked like.

 S 512

It looked like a picture of true friendship to me. I got so excited, “Look, baby. You gotta take a picture of this tree.” I was already working on my next blog. It was going to be about how one tree, wrapped its trunk around a palm tree to provide strength and support. That’s what believers should do for each other, wrap our arms around the weak and help them. While we should do that, that’s NOT what was happening in this picture. Wayne took the pictures from multiple angles like I asked him to do. He’s a better photographer than I am. Just one more of his talents. I love that man. Sorry, I sidetracked, but he is the joy of my life. Then we went inside the museum.


The man behind the desk greeted us with, “So you like our strangler fig.”


I answered with a bubbly, but ignorant sounding, “Huh?”


“The strangler fig. I saw you taking pictures of it,” the museum guide explained further. “It will kill the palms tree.”


There goes my inspirational blog. But like Normand, I needed to pay attention, there was something God was trying to say to me. But I had some listening to do. (Did you read his building healthy christian relationships


Three things have taken place in the quietness of its growth.

1. It strangles its host like a “botanical boa constrictor”.

2. The profusion of roots gobble the nutrients from the soil.

3. The higher canopy leaves the host tree in the shade. Trees need sunshine, not shade to grow.

 building healthy christian relationships



Eventually the host tree dies in the shade of the towering strangler fig. Here’s a picture Wayne had taken on Pelican Island of a dead host tree, decaying away, with a strangler fig wrapped and growing around it.


There’s something I find very alarming in this picture, while they will grow on a variety of trees, they will also grow on the strong, mighty trees as well. They attack strong trees like bald cypress, oaks and palms. Sad plight for trees that can endure storms, high winds, blights, and bugs, but die in the arms of a strangler fig.


Sometimes its hard to distinguish between a friend and fiend. Discovering who they really “R” is vital. Discovering if they  “R” a fRiend or a fiend calls for spiritual discernment. There are people that sound so nice and warm and friendly, but they are trouble, trouble, TROUBLE. That person that looks like a friend, may actually be a fiend. No, I’m not calling them a devil, but I’m trying to say they are really sent by the enemy to choke the life out of you. They are sent to distract you, to rob from you and if you let them, they’ll choke the very life out of you.


Don’t misunderstand me. Friends are sooo important. I really mean it, they are so important to our spiritual growth and success. My life has been dramatically enriched by friendships. I also have some friends that have been sent for me to encourage and love on and to help them grow. I even have some friends that are unsaved. I wish I had more unsaved friends, but that’s another story for another day. Yet the fact remains, those people that we give closest access to our hearts must be chosen very carefully.







I believe God was saying two things about relationships very clearly.

1. Everyone that looks and acts like a friend, isn’t necessarily your friend at all.

2. Even the mighty succumb to the power of a strangler fig.



My take away:

Proverbs 14:16 “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with great confidence.”  Father, help me to recognize the people in my life that are potential fig stranglers (not the right relationships to hold in my inner circle). While I’m not going to drag out my magnifying glass and go on a search for them, I will listen to His voice when he warns me about the presence of a strangler fig (wrong relationship) in my life.





    • Some warning signs that I have an unhealthy close relationship.
      • Their influence leaves me wanting more of the world instead of more of God.
      • I’m becoming more like them, and what I see conflicts with my spiritual values.
      • I’m more interested in pleasing them, than pleasing God.
      • I’m giving them too much control and influence in my life.
      • I’m spending too much time with them.



When I recognize a fig strangler or wrong relationship I will:

  • Pray for them.
  • Love them.
  • Refuse to gossip about them.
  • Listen to God. Does He want you to severe this relationship or just bring balance in it? Then do what He says.


Here’s a video of this amazing plant.






 Think MISSIONAL. If you know someone that would enjoy this blog, please pass it on!





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