Category Archives: Fishing



On Labor Day weekend, I took a little time to wet a hook in the Warrior River and try my skill at fishing. As I mentioned, fishing relaxes me and when I catch something it’s just icing on the cake.

I baited my hook and tossed it in the water. It barely had time to sink and under my cork went. After a short fight I landed a two pound catfish. Carefully, I reached down to grab the fish just in front of his top fin and his two side fins. Nothing hurts more and ruins a good day of fishing than a catfish fin in the hand. You can’t really blame the catfish, but just the same a little care keeps you from the painful skewering of a fish fin.

Now once I put the grip on the fish, I proceeded to the removal of the hook for its mouth. It was a little difficult due to the catfish’s lip being so tough. I worked the hook back and forth carefully to remove the hook because I am into catch and release. If you catch and release you don’t have to clean fish. I didn’t realize that in my exuberance to get the hook out with my right hand, I was squeezing the catfish with my left one. If you squeeze a catfish too hard it will…how can I say this—poop on you. I know you were probably not expecting me to say that—with most of my blogs being spiritual and all that, but it is what it is!

I was unaware of what had happened until I pitched the catfish back into the river. And then to my horror I saw the catfish poop on my shorts and worst of all, on my favorite tee-shirt—the faded, soft tangerine colored Key West one. There I stood on the pier with dark colored fish stuff dripping down my shirt and shorts.

What did you do—you might be wondering? What every fisherman would do, I scooped up a handful of river water and washed the fish fecal material off my clothes and proceeded to bait the hook for another cast. Heck…the catfish are biting!

Later the next day when I returned home, I squirted some stain remover on my tee shirt and washed it. When I took it out the stain was still there. I did the same thing again with the same result. So, I went to the next level and saturated it with a Clorox concoction my wife makes up and let it sit for several days. At this point I’m not sure the fish poop stain will ever come out, but my fingers are crossed.

I have learned a lesson—not about fishing but about life. When you get squeezed hard enough—when the pressure is on—something is bound to come out. Whatever is on the inside will always ooze out. We may pretend to be this or that, but when pressed hard enough by a situation of circumstance—who we really are comes to the forefront. We may try to hide it but it will eventually surface.

That’s why God is conforming us into the image of Christ from the inside out. He’s pressing us into the mold of Jesus Christ (that’s what conform means), and everything that’s not like Christ gets squeezed out. It squirts everywhere and often it is embarrassing because we were unaware of the mess still hiding within our hearts. Hopefully at some point, when the pressure is on, Christ will gush out and the conforming process will be complete.

But until that day dawns, be prepared to clean up the mess. Like that fish poop, a harsh word, an angry reaction, or a bad attitude can leave stains on those around us that are extremely hard to remove regardless of how diligent you are or how much time passes. Hopefully the next time you find yourself in a squeeze, you will remember this little fish poop story and be careful with your aim.

Taking a Break

The Fishing Hole

Sometimes, when the days are long and the temperatures too hot, my mind checks out and takes a little boat ride out to a special place where the lily pads are as big as golf umbrellas. Here the pressures of life seem to evaporate in the dull glow of the late evening summer sun. There are moments when all of us simply want to disappear to that place where nobody knows our name. I went there today, yet I never left my home.

It all started with a text message from a friend who happened to be out on my mythical body of water in the flesh. He sent me a text message, and in a couple of short sentences painted a welcomed word picture of this amazing solace of solitude. This image he captured in a few words was filled with numbers: seven jugs, twenty white pelicans, and three-eleven foot alligators coupled with a full moon. It doesn’t get any better than this whether you’re dreaming or not. Perhaps it seems a bit cryptic to you, but to me it is better than a 3-D movie with the glasses. If I can’t go in person, at least I dip my toes and drag my fingers in the waters of my imagination.

My ole fishing buddy is slipping across that still body of water headed for the little slew hidden among the lily pads where he can tie off to the remains of a decaying tree top. Over his shoulder, the moon is full and its light ricochets off the black water in a mysterious way that can mesmerize you if you stare at it long enough. Cruising across the water, you realize you are not alone out here. There are some other predators out here with the same thing you have on your mind—big fish! You can hear them as they grunt along the shore line or occasionally you might catch a glimpse of an eleven foot red-eyed gator as it glides effortlessly through the still waters of the lake. One gets your attention, but three tells you to be very, very cautious. There are others out here tonight that want to lay claim to this fishing hole.  No this is not a clip from Swamp People, but this is the best stress reliever you can get for a couple of gallons of gas, a fishing license, and an ice-cold can of Dt. Mtn. Dew. And the best part is it’s not costing me anything but little time.

Perhaps you’re wondering about the pelicans and the jugs. Those big white birds are roosting like Wal-Mart bags snagged in the branches of the cypress trees, while the jugs are rigged with circle 5 hooks and baited with big bream. To quote my buddy, “The bigger the bait the bigger the catfish we’re gonna catch!”

Now—all that’s left is to kick back, get comfortable, and enjoy the croaking of the frogs and the occasional splash of a smaller fish frantically attempting a maneuver to evade a much larger fish hungry for sushi. The hum of an occasional mosquito shatters the silence, but with a wave of a hand that calming hush returns.

I may not be there in person, but I sure enjoyed the journey in my imagination a


great deal. In case you’re wondering, my friend shot me a text this morning to tell me he had just netted a seven pound catfish. Pretty good I thought, but the ones I caught last night in my dreams were far bigger.

Lose the Label

The "ME" Label

I detest (secretly the real sentiment is hate) labels. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the turmoil of the cultural upheaval of the 1960’s and 70’s. That would be an easy default excuse to use, but then someone might want to stitch the label “rebel” in my collar and my distaste for pigeon-holing unique people in mediocre groupings gags on that like a chicken bone. No, I just like being an individual who is finally comfortable with the fit of my own unique skin.

I’m not the only one-of-a-kind wandering around on this planet—you are too. None of us are alike and yet, we are all human beings. We were created in the image and likeness of a Creator who revels in the degrees of diversity, but loves unity—just not uniformity. If you have a label sown on the nape of your neck or under your arm, blame someone other than God, because the last time he sutured anything  it was Adam’s ribcage.

Labels label. That one is obvious. You probably carry a moniker that someone other than you thought would fit you perfectly. They tend to divide us into categories and grouping that follow us all our life. Slow…Hyper…Weak…Strong…Smart…Loud…Introvert—you get what I mean. I may be slow because I process differently than others. I may be loud because I don’t feel like you hear me. I may be introverted for a time because I am not comfortable or a little uncertain of myself in this present atmosphere. There may be a sufficiently valid reason I am what I am at this very moment and that should not classify me in some arbitrary grouping. I know people who are wearing labels someone else tacked on them as children and that label is who they have become.

Labels also limit. They limit us to a fleeting success, a passing failure, a brief phase, or what someone else has chosen for us. They place a subjective ceiling on how high we can go—a fence of finality around how far we might roam. No other person living or dead has the right to limit you in the areas God has chosen to leave unlimited to you. We limit ourselves by dressing in the tyranny of restrictions that the faithless have imposed on others because they themselves have slipped comfortably into the noose of self-imposed limitations. Stamp a label on something and you automatically limit that person or product from being everything it could, would, or should have been

Ultimately, labels lessen. They leave us looking in the rear view mirror wondering what might have been. They haunt us as we get older and realize we have settled for far less than God intended. In some things less is better, but not in life. Life was meant to be lived full out and not half-way. Labels discriminate, berate, delegate, intimidate, and assassinate. But in the end, a label simply castrates our ability to step into our divine destiny.

Labels fly at us from all directions. They often seem harmless in the beginning, but can quickly bog us down or cripple us outright. Labels only stick as long as you allow them a surface to land on. As my father used to say, “Shake it off and get shed of it.” You can be Velcro for labels or you can be whatever you have the ability to dream. Lose the label and leap into life.

Alligators and Clorox Jug Evangelism



Scars from the battle



He will bite us but he cannot defeat us!


A picture paints a thousand words, and the damage to this Clorox jug will serve as a metaphorical picture of the unrequited rage and deep primordial hatred of our ancient foe. Jug fishermen use plastic bottles like this for floats as they put out baited hooks in hopes of catching the big catfish. Once a jug begins to bob up and down or becomes snagged in the labyrinth of the lily pads, it usually signals a hooked fish. The jugs don’t catch fish; they simply carry the bait to the fish and alert the fisherman that he has one on the hook.

This jug was the victim of an alligator attack. It happens on a regular basis. It’s a nuisance, but it really does nothing to deter a jug fisherman, who pulls another one out and ties a hook on it. Occasionally, you lose one, and there’s nothing you can do because alligators are protected by the Federal government. Big deal, there are far more jugs than there are gators.

Who knows what that red-eyed monster was thinking or why it destroyed this jug? Perhaps it went after the big bream we were using as bait and got a surprise when the hook snagged in a tender place. Perhaps it simply hated the presence of the bottle in its bog. Who knows and who cares? The alligator is one enemy a jug fisherman cannot worry about. These reptiles are a part of the eco-system, and thus we are forced to co-exist with them.

Switch gears, but keep the frightening picture of the gator attacking the jug in the back of your mind. Picture the devil and his demonic angels as gators sliding silently through the dark waters of the cosmos seeking souls to devour. Peppered here and there are the fishermen of Christ, working the same dark soup, going after the very same souls. Every soul in that black water will spend eternity somewhere. The question is where—heaven or hell? Look out your office cubicle—your kitchen window—the rear view mirror of your automobile— to the left and right, sitting in the little league bleachers—every person you see will be alive a million years from now in either be in heaven or in hell.

Now back to the jug. In this cosmic struggle for the souls of men, women, boys, and girls it represents you and me. We are not the bait or the hook, we are the simple floats—the vehicles—that God uses to carry the Gospel where the fish (the lost people) are congregating. We carry the message like the jug carries the hook, and the enemy hates us for it. He hates us because he hates our Savior. Get used to it! It’s been this way from the beginning.

From time to time our frustrated enemy erupts in rage or hatred and bites at us for rescuing those he considers his own. Don’t get hung up on the tooth marks or the pain you might incur. Wipe off the blood, reach back in the boat, and get another jug. One day when you stand in heaven, surrounded by the souls you snatched from hell you can tell them your fish tales and show them your scars.

As a jug fisherman might say, “Forget the gators, the fish are tearing it up—hand me another jug!”

Catfish, Confusion, and #5 Circle Hooks

Beware the hook!

In the natural world catfish are the fresh-water rulers of the dark depths near the bottom—tough skinned and insatiable in their foraging for food. They eat whatever they find, wherever they find it, with little or no investigation or concern. They see it, they swim over to it, and if they can catch it, they swallow it. Over time, like us, they grow fat off the garbage they ingest.

The secret to successful jug fishing is really no secret at all. Take a #5 circle hook and cover it with something that smells really bad or looks really good. I prefer the latter and a live hand-sized bream is almost too much for a big ole catfish. You suspend that delectable piece of squirming sushi in the water and look out—it will be an evening of fun as you sit back and anticipate those golden brown filets melting in your mouth.

We are a lot more like catfish than most of us would like to think. Living in the dim shadows near the bottom, we tend to grow fat off the debris of worthless teachings and the decaying scraps of sermonic cadavers instead of swimming up near the top where the water is warm and the food is fresh, and our ancient enemy is fully aware of these tendencies.

He knows our feeding habits and how easy it is to confuse us. He cleverly baits his hooks with forbidden morsels that seem to dance in the dim water we are used to swimming in. The bait is not the issue; it’s the exploitation of the fish’s hunger that lands it on the hook and on the stringer. And so it is with us; we can blame the devil and his tackle box filled with an alluring assortment of baits, but the real culprit is the lust that resides deep within each of us.

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and entrapped by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:14-15). The bait simply excites the lust, and in the accompanying confusion of our feeding frenzy, the barbed hook finds its mark, or as we might say in the mother tongue of a jug fisherman—“Fifty pounds of catfish ain’t a bad night for ten empty milk jugs, some #5 circle hooks, and seven or eight scrawny bream. Grab the filet knife—heat up the oil—we got fish to fry!”

Alligators, Apathy, and the Adversary

The sun was setting as we eased the boat back away from the campground on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. The pallor of the sky was a grayish orange and the cool breeze was a brief respite from summer’s oppressive heat. We were headed out to jug fish at a spot among the lily pads where the Pearl River empties into the Reservoir. Jug fishing is an inexpensive way to catch big fish. All you need is an empty milk jug, a hook, some string, a lead weight, and the bait. You drop the baited jugs out, find a nice place to tie off, sit back, enjoy a Coke, and wait for the big fish to come for dinner.

As we were turning to head down the narrow canal toward the open water, we came face to face with a seven foot alligator who had been silently watching us for a long time like we were a couple of rotisserie chickens from the grocery deli. Alligators are common here and protected by law, so most people pay little attention to them. I’m not from here, and so every time I see one, something primal from deep within me starts screaming, “Run for your life!” Since I’ve never walked on water, I chose to be still, stay on the boat, and hide my feelings of terror from my fishing buddy. As silently as the gator came, he submerged and disappeared. No sound—no splash—not even a ripple—vanishing like a phantom into the dark green water.

In that moment of panic, God decided to pull up a chair, make it a teaching moment, and remind me of a spiritual truth. His lesson was not about fear or faith. It was an exercise in alertness. The Father reminded me that we all have an enemy lurking out there, watching us with steely red eyes like that gator. Our adversary is looking for that moment of opportunity where he can seize the advantage to kill, steal, or destroy something God is doing in our lives. He lurks—quietly waiting for someone to devour. He’s always there, even if we don’t see him.

The lesson of the alligator is this: it’s not the adversary, but our apathetic nature that poses our greatest threat. In Christ, we are more than conquerors, but if we allow the caress of apathy to embrace us and forget to be alert, we are in danger of becoming dinner for the devil. Or, if you will allow me to paraphrase 1 Peter 5:8 in the vernacular of a hesitant jug fisherman: “Watch out, be on the alert. Your adversary, that big gator, is seeking someone to devour. Don’t let it be you!”