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{}   *Learning to be a Fisherman* 


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Learning To Be A Fisherman   
by Ken Pierpont

A few years ago we considered taking up fly-fishing.  When we wanted to learn fly-fishing we read about it.  The literature on fly-fishing is extensive.  The best fly-fishermen must spend most of the winter tying their own flies or writing first-class prose about the sport.  It is an art-form and the aesthetic bent that draws a man to it must lend itself in many fly-fisherman to good descriptive writing. It is common for a good book on fly-fishing to be illustrated with some very satisfying watercolors.
Henry VanDyke was such a man.  I still cherish the memory of reading my first essay by Henry VanDyke.  VanDyke is perhaps best remembered for writing the words to "Joyful, Joyful, we Adore Thee," but he was a man of an amazing variety of gifts and interests.  The pastor of Brick Presbyterian Church in New York, an American Ambassador, and avid lover and explorer of God's creation, he was a writer and fly-fisherman.  When he writes of a trout stream in the heather-carpeted highlands of Scotland you can almost hear the brook, smell the moist air, and feel the tug at your line.
It was a sweet smiling providence that directed me to a used bookstore one afternoon on the way home from a speaking engagement where I found a treasure I didn't even know at the time existed. the complete works of Henry Van Dyke.  Eighteen beautiful hard-cover volumes nearly a century old.  The set is a world of pleasure, theology, essay, memoir, exposition of Scripture, and outdoor journals from travels around the world.  Van Dyke even wrote a full book on his observations of creation in the Land where Christ walked.
There is just plain a wealth of good fly-fishing literature available for long winter evenings when you are waiting for spring.  It is great to read and beautiful to behold.  But you can't really learn to fish by reading about it, not even books with pictures.  We wanted to learn the sport.  I knew we needed a mentor.  In my pastoral visitation I began to ask around.
One afternoon calling on a man in our church I judged by a room full of trophies that I was in the home of a seasoned outdoorsman.  I said, "Say, what do you know about fly-fishing?"
"Well, not much, but I tell you who does.  Wes Cooper is a master fly-fisherman.  He builds bamboo fly-rods and people from all over the country buy them."
When I returned home I told my sons, "Here is the phone number of an expert fly-fisherman.  Most older men will open the treasure of their knowledge to a young man who will respectfully listen and ask insightful questions.  When he sees you are eager to learn, he will teach you everything he knows."
That was true of Wes Cooper.  He was a retired school teacher, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, a fisher of souls, and a fly-fisherman.  He invited us over and he showed us how to cast and we stood around for a couple hours copying notes into our little notebooks as we learned the art of fly-fishing. He saw that we had an appreciation for what we could learn from him.  A few weeks later he took the boys with him out on some of his favorite streams in West Michigan and showed them on the stream how to match the insect hatch, how to present the fly, and how to hook and land a fish.
If you really want to learn to fish you want to read, and study, listen and watch, but most of all you want to follow. follow a master fisherman and imitate him.  You need to be with him.  You need to spend time in the presence of the Master.
If you want to be a fisher of men, follow Jesus, go with him, imitate him, admire him, and fellowship with him. that is how we will learn to influence men into the Kingdom.  That is how we will become fishers of men.
I was talking with a Canadian pastor in the lobby of the Character Inn one day.  I could tell he walked with God and had a great love for God.  I asked him where he got his formal education.  He said, "I didn't go to seminary.  I studied under Bill McCleod.  I just spent time with him and he taught me how to pray and walk with God and live in the word of God."
I remembered the name Bill McCleod.  I had read of him and listened to a recording of his own account of how the Spirit had visited his church and his entire city with revival.  The revival spread through a large part of Canada and the States.  He had walked with God.  He had tasted revival.  He had seen the hand of God at work.  The young pastor made a wise decision to study under Bill McCleod.  He knew that to learn you must spend time with one who is a follower of the Master.

Years later an interesting thing happened.  We moved from the area to serve at the Character Inn in Flint.  Lois' brother, Alvin, was in the area in a fly-fishing shop during a trip to West Michigan and an elderly man struck up a conversation with him.  The white-haired man showed interest in him even though he is an unlikely looking outdoorsman.  He rides a Harley, wears a leather jacket, and has tattoos, a goatee, and long hair in a braid.  We don't think he knows the Lord yet.  Our children have prayed for him every night for years.  The old man in the fly-fishing shop was our friend Wes Cooper.  It was Wes Cooper who struck up a conversation with him and tried to influence him into the Kingdom.  He was following Christ.  He was fishing for men.
When my hair is white I want to be the kind of man who stands around fly-fishing shops and strikes up conversations with unlikely types to tell them of the Master who captured my own heart so long ago.
Ken Pierpont

Write Ken and let him know your thoughts on his story!

Ken Pierpont is the Director of the Riverfront Character Inn and International Conference Center in Flint, Michgian.  He and his wife Lois have four sons and four daughters.  Ken sends the Stonebridge Newsletter, a free weekly electronic newsletter, to over 5,000 subscribers every Monday morning.  You can visit his site or e-mail Ken at


Thought For The Day:

"One falsehood spoils a thousand truths." --Ashanti Proverb

Verse for the Day:

"A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth
works ruin." --Proverbs 26:28

Kid's Thought For The Day:

"Two little boys were playing together when a cute, curly-haired girl walked
by. One kid said, "You know something? When I stop hating girls, I think
I'll stop hating that one first!"

Parent's Thought For The Day:

"If you want your children to have places in their hearts that speak to
them, give them places worth going to." --Jan McKenzie

Coach's Thought For The Day:

"The game of football is played all over the world. In some countries, such
a game may be called a soccer match. In others, a revolution. However, there
are several differences between a football game and a revolution. For one
thing, a football game usually lasts longer and the participants wear
uniforms. Also, there are usually more casualties in a football game.
The object of the game is to move the ball past the other team's goal line.
This counts as six points. No points are given for lacerations, contusions,
or abrasions, but then no points are deducted, either. Kicking is very
important in football. In fact, some of the more enthusiastic players even
kick the football occasionally." --Alfred Hitchcock

Deep Thought For The Day:

"I've got a wonderful doctor. If you can't afford the operation, he touches up the X rays." -- Henny Youngman



Inspired Audio -- Inspirational Audio Message of the Week!

Inspired Audio is a brand new offshoot of  Every week we will offer a different audio message that you can listen to right on your computer as you are surfing the net or just getting things done around the house.  Be sure to come back and visit each week! 

This Week: "Maintaining Momentum" by Jeff Williams



Over 87,000 people have listened to popular Chicken Soup Author Michael T. Powers' free inspirational message entitled: "Breathing Life into Others".  If you aren't one of them just visit: and click on the link to listen to the free streaming audio message!


Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business

Dear Michael,

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever!
Silverhill, AL

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