The winter season is a great time of the year for the Christian sportsman. Even though many regions have closed their harvest seasons for the year, some hunting and fishing areas remain open for various species of game animals and sport fishing. For the avid outdoorsman this is the only prompting necessary for him to continue in his quest to find pleasure while enjoying the thrill of outdoor pursuits.
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The winter season is a great time of the year for the Christian sportsman. Even though many regions have closed their harvest seasons for the year, some hunting and fishing areas remain open for various species of game animals and sport fishing. For the avid outdoorsman this is the only prompting necessary for him to continue in his quest to find pleasure while enjoying the thrill of outdoor pursuits.In the book, “The Purpose Driven Life”, Rick Warren speaks about pleasure and the worship of our Heavenly Father, “One of the greatest gifts God has given you is the ability to enjoy pleasure. He wired you with five senses and emotions so that you can experience it. He wants you to enjoy life, not just endure it. The reason you are able to enjoy pleasure is that God made you in his image”. God has hard-wired into the very fiber of our being … an inbuilt need to connect with Him.
Do activities such as duck hunting or ice fishing bring pleasure to the heart of God? No, not if our motive is self-serving. And the vast majority of outdoorsmen are not concerned with bringing pleasure to the heart of God but rather themselves. Most would agree that hunting and fishing activities tend to become self-indulgent with many outdoors enthusiasts giving very little effort to drawing closer to God. However, such activities can indeed serve to draw us closer to God if we will acknowledge Him as the Creator of all that we enjoy giving him praise and thanksgiving for the bounty from the field!
Unfortunately, man totally misses the mark when he is given to self-centeredness just as an archer misplaces his aim when releasing an arrow at his target and misses his mark. But many Christian sportsmen are beginning to order their priorities based on their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and their growing commitment to the commands of God. Our priority commitment to seek first God’s Kingdom will ensure that our outdoor pursuits do indeed glorify God.
Let’s see what scripture states about the topic. “But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matt. 6:33 Renowned missionary to China and former Olympian, Eric Liddell, will be forever remembered for his comment in the movie Chariots of Fire for the profound statement, “God made me to run fast. And when I run I feel that it brings pleasure to the heart of God”. Much is accomplished when the sportsman takes to the woods or onto the water with the right priorities in mind.
God created man for his pleasure. Obedience to his commands brings great pleasure to the heart of God.
1. Solitude for Hearing God Speak.
Quality relationships require focused attention and proper maintenance. When in the wilderness on a hunting or fishing trip, sportsmen can discover much-needed time for fellowship together. However, such quality time invested together is not just for self-help or personal therapy. God wants each of us to withdraw from the crowds of our fast-paced world so that we can invest quality and quantity time alone with him. When God speaks we must listen. God has purposed in his divine plan to pursue an intimate relationship with each of us with a desire that we become conformed to his image. This intimacy brings pleasure to the heart of God. The Psalmist stated, “Be still and know that I am God”. Ps. 46:10 Jesus is our ultimate example, “Jesus retreated to the mountainside to pray early in the morning”. Mk 1:35 Just as Adam walked with our creator, we as believers have been given the privilege to not only know God but provision has been made through our personal relationship with His son to hear God’s “still small voice” then respond in obedience. Scripture encourages us to “Walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
2. Fervency of Spirit to Serve the Community and Others
(As Christ’s Ambassadors we connect with others through common passions)
Probably the most obvious act of obedience regarding the sportsman is to place high priority on stewardship over God’s creation commonly known as the practice of conservation management – often referred to as “sustained utilization”. Wildlife biologists have studied the positive impact of harvesting trophy bucks from a wildlife management area to allow for the young bucks to breed with the does to produce healthy offspring. Otherwise, the whitetail population can be adversely effected when the dominant bucks interbreed with their offspring.
God has called the Christian sportsman to support the practice of conservation management as his way of ensuring that the great outdoors remains in balance. Preset bag limits along with well-defined harvest seasons provide ample incentive to motivate the ethical hunter to adhere to such regulations.
A total commitment “to submit to the governing authorities” as instituted by God (Rom 13:1) is necessary and remains the primary responsibility of each individual Christian sportsman as well as conservation membership organizations. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them”, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything’.” (Gen. 1:27-28, Gen. 9:1-3 NIV)
Obedience to the commands of God to properly manage or “rule” over the earth brings pleasure (glorifies) to God as the creator of all that we enjoy in the great outdoors! Man’s obedience in taking dominion (ruling) over creation as commanded by our Lord is but one of the important ways that hunting game animals and sport fishing can bring pleasure to the heart of God. Passion fills the Christian sportsman’s heart when he sees opportunity during each season of the year to “connect” with fellow outdoorsmen during times of hunting and fishing afield together.
Whether attending a Ducks Unlimited event or while enjoying God’s presence in the “classroom” of his great outdoors, why not ask him to bring another sportsman across your path who may be seeking answers to life’s many questions? It is impossible to fulfill the Great Commission without a good understanding of the Great Commandment, to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31 The Spirit of God opens our eyes then touches our heart to serve. “Were not our hearts burning within us” Luke 24:32.
Simon Peter was a crusty old fisherman who often misplaced his priorities. Early one morning while standing on the shores of Galilee following an overnight deep sea fishing trip Jesus restored Peter’s relationship as a fervent follower destined to serve in a critical church leadership role.
3. Sharing Your Christian Faith with Others.
Christian sportsmen find great opportunity to share their Christian faith through God’s Word, outdoors illustrations and timely stories. The mandate and inspiration for such passionate determination can be found in numerous scriptural references. Placing high priority on lifestyle Christianity (evangelism) brings pleasure to the heart of God. If a sportsman desires to serve Jesus Christ (The Master Fisherman) in fulfilling the Great Commission, then he must prioritize his life goals in obedience to the commands of God.
The Great Commission: Go into all the world proclaim the Good News then make disciples of all men. Matt. 28:19 “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”. Ps. 107:2 “Be ready in season and out of season, always ready to give an account for the hope that you have within you”. II Tim 4:2 “Proclaim the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:60 Mark 16:15 Question: What are your God-centered priorities as a Christian sportsman? Bringing pleasure to the heart of God can be summed up in one word, “Obedience”. The question remains, “Are we placing our highest priority in obeying the commands of God?”
Here is a Message from Richard Jordan Fellow Sportsman:
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Are you ready to follow the Master Fisherman? When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets.” Simon answered, “Master we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man! For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simons partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:4-11)
Jesus again asks the question, “Are you ready to pull your boat up to shore and follow me in fulfilling The Great Commission and The Great Commandment?” Yes, true sportsmen are conservationists as well as committed to responsible ethics but our great Christian heritage goes much deeper to give us not only the biblical mandate to serve as good stewards but also the opportunity to become great fishers of men.
Jesus is asking us to let down our nets for a bountiful harvest and is waiting for your response. Won’t you follow Him today?